Sexual Assault: Focus on Male Victims, part 7 (final)

This will be the last post on this topic.  I sincerely hope they posts have been helpful, whether you are a victim or are married to or otherwise related to a male victim of sexual assault.  It’s a serious issue.

It is commonly accepted that victims of any type of abuse (physical, mental, emotional, etc) go on to become abusers. Sometimes it’s true; hence, such evils as generational incest. However, it is not always true, and we need to not assume anything here.

The perpetuation of such a belief  can create terrible fear in boys and men.  The fear that they themselves will abuse other boys/men can become so strong that they will isolate themselves from human contact simply to prevent such behaviors.  That isolation leads to a host of other harmful behaviors, such as substance abuse, obesity, and other self-harm.

They also tend to fear that if anyone else knows what happened to them, they will be seen as a danger to children. As such, they would be treated as social pariahs, never allowed contact, even in their own families, with the people they need the most. Boys and men who have suffered sexual assault and abuse often feel they are seen as perpetrators rather than as victims.

If a boy gets  good help when he is young, the statistics show very few of them go on to abuse other children.  Remember, these boys didn’t ask to be assaulted; they were victims, not perpetrators.  Unless there is an underlying, unrecognized and deep anger in the boy as he grows up, he will be a danger to no one.

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Sexual Assault: Focus on Male Victims, part 6

Today I’m going to look at  belief some people have that if a boy is abused by a female, he is “lucky,” and if he doesn’t feel that way, there is something wrong with him.

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I am continually astounded at the ease with which we accept such ridiculous ideas.  To believe this one is to believe that all males think about sex all the time; it doesn’t matter how it happens, just so it does happen;  that no normally healthy boy or man can be harmed by the unwanted sexual advances of a woman.

So wrong on so many levels.

First, not all sexual assault on males is perpetrated by females.  I was talking with someone not too long ago who suffered rape at the hands of a much stronger male. Horrible experience, leaving lasting problems that all fall into the category of PTSD.

But for today’s purposes, let’s just pretend that our victim is a young boy, and the perpetrator is a woman who is enough older that she can control the boy.

I want you to notice the words victim and perpetrator. I used them on purpose.  Remember the definition of a victim?  It is someone who has something happen to him that he does not want but cannot stop; he cannot protect himself, he is helpless.

A perpetrator, in legal terms, is someone who has committed a crime.

Now, put those two terms together and tell me, please, how this can be in any way a good experience for the boy?

I understand that victims of sexual assault do sometimes feel a certain degree of pleasure. What you need to understand is that the pleasure they may feel induces a huge, unbearable load of guilt and adds to the misbelief that they are somehow to blame. It also often makes it difficult for the victim to experience true pleasure later on, because all sexual activity has come to be connected with guilt, hurt, secrecy, and shame.

Compensatory behaviors range all over the place, from sexual acting out to abuse of alcohol, drugs, food, and self harm.

 Premature, coerced or otherwise abusive or exploitive sexual experiences are never positive. It doesn’t matter who the perpetrator is. Such experiences cause confusion and insecurity. They almost always harm a man’s ability to develop trust and intimacy. Often, males fail to recognize the connections between the abuse and later problems. To be used as a sexual object by a more powerful person, male or female, is never a good thing, and can cause lasting harm.

Sexual Assault: Focus on Male Victims, part 5

I’m dealing with a topic today that pushes buttons for a lot of people.  It’s always amazing to me how quickly a misbelief can become rock solid truth in our minds, with very little knowledge, research or experience to back it up.

So.  Have you ever heard this one? “If a boy/man is sexually assaulted, it’s because he is or will become a homosexual.”

Ranks right up there with “If a woman is raped, it’s because she was asking for it.”

Evil compounded on evil.

If we’re going to follow that logic, then it would have to be true that if a lesbian is raped by a male, it’s because she wanted to/will become heterosexual.

No, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either.

I’m not going to even try to deal with sexual orientation issues here.  That’s not the point.  The point is what we believe about a boy or man who has been assaulted against his will; who has possibly been seriously hurt in the process; who had no way to prevent or escape the assault, and who is probably dealing with at least some, if not all, of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Why we want to victimize these guys further  is just beyond me, same as it is with women.  They’ve been through enough, already.

The simple truth is, there is no research, there are no statistics, that support the idea that males who are sexually assaulted become homosexuals or were homosexuals before the assault.  So let’s just get this out of the way:  Does it ever happen?  Yes, of course. And here’s the reason why.

Sexual assault is not just an assault on the body.  It touches the heart and soul of the victim. Please remember that the very first thing Adam and Eve noticed after they first disobeyed God was that they were naked.  It had never bothered them before, but now their minds and hearts were polluted by sin, and what God had created to be pure and beautiful in a loving relationship was also corrupted by sin.  Human sexuality was the first thing Satan touched with his scaly finger, and it’s been a problem ever since.  Our minds are so twisted up and polluted by sin, especially in matters of sexuality, that we fail to think biblically about the issue.

I’ve said it before and I’m about to say it again:  Sexual sin is NOT the unforgiveable sin!  That sin is to deny the deity of Jesus Christ, which is blasphemy. Look it up in Matthew 12:22-32.  We, not God, are the ones who have elevated sexual sin to THE WORST SIN YOU CAN COMMIT.  I agree, it’s awful.  It offends our holy God, and it ought to offend us. But, as I’ve also said before, if there had never been sexual sin, Jesus still would have had to die.  I wish we were just as concerned about lying, or coveting, or using God’s Name in vain as we are about sexual sin.

Anyway.  Please pardon the rabbit trail.  I get churned up sometimes 🙂 Back to the issue.

A boy or man is just as confused and full of self-doubt as a female victim is.  His negative self-talk will include things like this:

“Why did that guy pick ME?  Am I really a homosexual?  I must not be very manly. I must look or seem weak.  I must seem like I WANT to be abused!  Something about me attracted him.  Maybe it’s the way I walk.  Maybe I really do seem attractive to other men.  Does that mean I’m really homosexual?”

One of the most distressing results of sexual assault on a male or female child is that it robs the person of the right to discover sexuality as a loving, wholesome, and binding experience. Childhood sexual assault almost always leads to a host of other problems, including other sexual assault episodes.

What we forget in all this is that the rapist is the one to blame.  The rapist is the one who feels entitled to force himself on someone else. The rapist is the one who breaks the law and creates no end of ongoing grief and sorrow for the victim. Why we seem to so quickly shift the blame to the victim is just amazing to me.

Sexual Assault: Focus on Male Victims, part 4

The myth for today on this subject is that  those who abuse boys are homosexuals. If you try to follow the logic on this one, you’re going to get all twisted up.  It makes about as much sense as this silly little comic strip:

So let’s take a look at some of the implications of this belief.

First,  one must assume that all who sexually abuse boys are males; otherwise, why would a homosexual woman abuse a boy? Wouldn’t she choose a girl instead?

Second, one must assume that women do not abuse boys. This is patently not true.  Here’s just one of dozens of websites on this subject: http://kalimunro.com/wp/articles-info/sexual-emotional-abuse/male-sexual-abuse-victims-of-female-perpetrators

But let’s get back t the idea that every man who abuses a boy is a homosexual. We need to be very careful about making these 100% kinds of statements, because some very damaging beliefs can develop from them. One is that a boy who has been sexually abused becomes homosexual. Another is that all homosexual males abuse little boys.  Neither of these statements is true 100% of the time. We need to be careful how we use 100% words, like all, every, always, never. 

Are there homosexual males who molest young boys?  Of course.  Are there heterosexual males who abuse young boys? Of course.  Do all boys who are molested become homosexuals?  No.  Do all boys who are molested grow up to become molesters? No. Do either of these things happen sometimes?  Sure. But not EVERY time, not ALL the time, not EVERY boy!

So why does anyone molest a young boy?

There are no simple answers here.  We need to remember that every human being is born with the nature to sin.  That sinful nature is going to manifest in many different ways.  One of those ways is to sexually abuse people who are unable to prevent the abuse.

There are several passages in the Bible that express how the sins of the fathers will show up in the children for several generations (Numbers 14:18, for example).  The meaning of these verses is not that the children will be punished for their fathers’ sins, but that the same tendency will exist in them as it did in their fathers. That’s one reason generational incest is such a problem.  An obsession with pornography, or any other kind of sexual sin, is very often traceable in the family tree.

That doesn’t mean it has to continue.  Each of us has the choice to follow the path of evil of the path of righteousness, which is a topic for another post.

There are some common features  in those who abuse children:

  • A person with power or influence over a child can develop a sexual interest in the child.
  • There are no “stops” that keep the adult from improper behavior.  It is very easy to convince oneself that it’s okay, because the child didn’t resist; the child actually enjoyed it, and so on.
  • The person acts out their sexual fantasies and impulses toward the child, because he/she can’t find an adult who will cooperate; or the person is afraid of rejection, and a child is pretty helpless.

For me, the bottom line here is that Satan is out to destroy whatever God loves; God loves children; therefore, Satan targets children with no end of abominable abuse at the hands of those who have no conscience, and who care only about their own gratification. We call them sociopaths these days. And that, too, is a subject for another post, another day.

Never discount the presence and power of evil in this world.

Sexual Assault: Focus on Male Victims, part 3

Some people believe that boys are not as hurt by sexual assault as girls are. This is a slap to both male and female victims.  The inference is that, since girls are weaker and more helpless, they suffer more.  The assumption about boys is that they can shrug it off better, and so they don’t suffer as much.

Both ways of thinking are nonsense.

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Most studies show that the harm caused by sexual abuse doesn’t really depend so much on the gender of the victim.  Rather, it depends on other factors such as the abuser’s identity, the duration of the abuse, whether the child told anyone at the time, and if so, whether the child was believed and helped.  Far more harm is caused to either a boy or a girl when they tell someone who they believe will help them, and no help is forthcoming. The person either disbelieves them or downplays what happened. Worse, that person refuses to acknowledge the trauma that always accompanies abuse, and refuses to even listen to the child’s story.

A non-concerned adult can often make a boy feel he just has to “tough it out,” be man, don’t be such a pansy.  When the person or people a boy trusts refuse to offer him help or belief, he is left to figure it out himself, like a “real man.”  Even years later, when they are still struggling with the effects of abuse, it is usually harder for a man to seek help than it is for a woman.

I think it is paradoxical that, in our benighted society, we have done our best to feminize men while at the same time we’ve not allowed them to express their deepest fears because that isn’t manly. Above all, a boy or man should never reveal weakness or need emotional help.  It’s just not manly.

Men can fail to realize that what happened was harmful, and not connect their PTSD symptoms with the abuse. Or, even if they do understand the roots of their emotional angst, they are too ashamed to seek help. Either way, the pain continues.

Boys learn early not to show emotions that get them labeled as “soft.”  The problem is, repressing “bad” emotions also leads to suppressing the good ones.  So, even though those emotions don’t go away but just take deeper root all the time, a boy becomes a man who essentially feels nothing. The only strong emotions that are allowed to surface are those of anger and aggression.

“Nobody’s going to make me cry.  Nobody’s ever going to call me a girl.”

Those ideas aren’t helpful at all.  Eventually, a boy or man will act out on his pain, shame, humiliation, and fear.  That can show up in a variety of ways, including becoming a sexual aggressor, falling into deep depression, using food as a palliative, having multiple negative relationships with women, and so on.

It is vitally important for a male victim of sexual assault to find good help. These problems don’t just disappear with time.

Sexual Assault: Focus on the Male Victims, part 2

My purpose in these posts is to help dispel some fallacious beliefs that have developed over time. Similar to beliefs about female victims, there are some very harmful ideas out there; for instance, the idea that if a woman was raped, she was probably asking for it.  Good grief.  Does anyone really believe that—-that rape is something you “ask for”?  In any case, there are similar myths out there about male victims that need to be addressed.

Many male sexual assault victims feel intense guilt and confusion  if they were aroused at any point, or even enjoyed the attention they were getting at first. Typically, the predator will win the boy’s trust and affection with a lot of attention, gifts, and long intimate conversations. The boy will begin to respond when touching starts, not realizing the ultimate goal of the predator. If the boy shows any sign of enjoyment or arousal, the predator can say, “See, you wanted it; you liked it.”  And because the boy is inexperienced, he is confused and feels shame and guilt.

Fact:  Men’s bodies and brains react differently than women’s do. It is possible for a boy to experience some arousal without wanting or enjoying being manipulated into the experience.

It is absolutely possible for a boy or man to be raped. That doesn’t mean he wanted or liked it.

Sexual Assault: Focus on Male Victims

Statisitcs are pretty consistent that one out of every three women and one out of every six men will have suffered some sort of sexual molestation by the time they are 18.  I, of course, find these numbers absolutely appalling. The numbers make it pretty clear that, male or female, we are at risk simply because we exist.

Today the focus is on the men.  Is it different for them than for women?  Do they struggle with the same fears? Are they fundamentally changed by the experience, or are they able to let it go?

One of the first questions raised by sexual abuse of boys is whether or not they can actually be abused in the same way that women can.  Well, of course not–they are anatomically different.  However, they certainly can be–and are–victims of abuse that can be just as degrading, humiliating, painful and frightening as it is for women.

It’s always interesting to me that we tend not to see boys and men as victims as easily as we see women in that role.  After all, our society used to (and to some degree still does)  want boys to be tough, strong, defenders of all that is good.  Boys are to grow into men who will defend their families and their country against all comers.  Personally, I like that view.  I think we’ve done boys a huge disservice in expecting them to “be in touch with their feminine side” when study after study has shown that left to their own choice, boys usually choose traditionally masculine toys and behaviors.  Put a truck and a doll in front of a boy and show no preference of your own, and he will usually choose the truck.

I emphasize this point because it is important to understand that boys are not molested because they aren’t manly, masculine, or strong. Abuse crosses all lines and all stereotypes.  Abusers aren’t out there looking for feminized boys.  They’re just looking for vulnerable ones.  Truth:  Any boy, alone, smaller than his abuser, and kept quiet by shame, is vulnerable.

One of the most hurtful burdens a man or boy carries, after sexual assault, is that he was unable to “be a MAN” and step up to protect himself or prevent the abuse.  That sense of vulnerability and weakness can certainly change the course of a boy’s life.

And I can already see that this is going to be a more-than-one-week kind of topic.  Since most of the victims I work with personally are female, I’m doing a lot of study and research on the issues a male victim carries. Some are pretty much the same as for women, but all are touched by the sense that a boy/man should somehow have been able to prevent it.

More next week.