Was My Sexual Abuse My Fault?

03 Apr 2016

men who were sexually abusedWe are living through something of a witch-hunt these days.  Men are being accused of sexual abuse, often going back decades, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether there is evidence or not to support it.

What is helpful about the current interest in sexual abuse, however, is that the historic abuse of boys is increasingly being recognized and documented.  For generations the mainstream charities supporting victims of sexual abuse refused to take on male cases as a political position.  Victims of male sexual abuse were not only disbelieved by the state, but were silenced by the charities that claimed to support survivors.

If male sexual abuse survivors found the public space unhelpful, the internal psychological space was often worse.  Boys who are sexually abused sometimes get an erection.  Boys who are sexually abused sometimes collude with the abuse as a way of coping with it.  Boys who are sexually abused are sometimes also genuinely sexually curious about the activities of the abuser?  What does this mean?

For boys who are sexually abused they are sometimes deeply tormented about their own culpability in their own abuse.  As a consequence they are often tormented about what this means about their sexuality, and their masculinity.  The result:  many boys simply shut down the trauma, burry it, and suffer in silence through adult life: they experience shame, guilt and flashbacks … in silence.  Many men don’t even tell their wives of their ordeal.

My position is clear.  Adults should not interfere in the developing sexuality of children.  If they do, they are culpable of a criminal offence and should be punished by the law.  The fact that abusers are skilled at manipulating young boys minds means that the abuse is not just physical, but it psychological, and often enduring.

If you were abused as a child and are still tormented by what this means, you are entitled to sympathetic support.  I understand that you may never wish to pursue your abuser through the courts, but you may still need to talk through your experience, be believed, honestly confront your own perceived culpability, and put this demon to bed.

Fortunately dedicated male survivor organisations are starting to appear.  Try survivorsuk.org who offer a confidential helpline and some great information.


Phil Tyson PhD

Dr Phil Tyson is a mens' psychotherapist working in Manchester, UK and via SKYPE worldwide. He offers cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and psychotherapy.

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