Male survivors often feel alone because there is little talk or understanding of the sexual abuse of boys and, particularly, of the sexual assault of adult men.
Those who sexually abuse boys or men are generally male, but can also be female. All Rape Crisis Centres support and/or offer counselling to male survivors or refer them to the appropriate local service. In many Rape Crisis Centres, male counsellors are available for face-to-face counselling if this is what you would prefer. Find a RCC.
What are the long-term effects of abuse?
The long-term effects of sexual abuse are similar to what people who have suffered severe trauma will experience. This may include: low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, difficulties with relationships and sexuality, confusion about sexual orientation, underachievement, aggression, passivity, addictions, social and emotional withdrawal, obsessions, breakdown, suicide, abuse of others and self-harm. More about trauma.
In our experience, talking to someone can help. More about counselling.
Abuse can present many difficulties for men:
Employment and unemployment
You may experience difficulties at work or find it hard to get or keep a job. You may have difficulty with authority figures as a result of the abuse of power between you and your abuser. You may not feel able to relate to others in your workplace and this may cause difficulties for you.
Substance abuse and addictions
You may turn to alcohol or drugs or work exceptionally long hours to escape from the hurt. These addictions can lead to problems at home or at work and may result in the loss of your job, your career being stalled, or the breakdown of your relationships.
Culturally, men can feel uncomfortable expressing emotions like shame, vulnerability, sadness, fear and guilt. These are the main emotions that men feel after sexual abuse but anger is often used to express or hide these emotions.
When you were sexually abused, you may have felt aroused. This is a normal physical response to attention or affection, even when it happens in the context of abuse. This may lead to a lot of confusion for you about your own sexual identity or sexual orientation. Abusers often manipulate feelings of doubt or shame, leading to confusion around sexual orientation. Any anxiety you may feel around masculinity and sexuality may be increased by the stereotype that 'real men' don't get abused, especially if the sexual violence happened to you as an adult. Also, the desire for emotional fulfilment may have been met at some level in the abuse. Afterwards, sex may be seen as one way to satisfy that need for emotional fulfilment.
Physical and emotional symptoms
Examples of symptoms you might experience include: frequent nightmares, persistent agitation, difficulty in using public toilets, depression, fearfulness in the presence of more aggressive men, problems around trust and intimacy, fear that you may in turn abuse children and over-protectiveness of your own children.
there can be cultural and emotional issues which are specific to male survivors