Sexual exploitation and abuse is a terrible issue affecting so many people around the world, but often when it comes to male exploitation and abuse, it is left undocumented in news stories with more focus and reported stories from females, and unfortunately male abuse is more common than most people believe. There many reasons why it is less documented, however its time, more so than ever before to break this stigma and encourage and support men to report such tragic events.
While both female and male abuse victims struggle with shame and stigma, stereotypes about male masculinity often force men to wrestle with unique issues. Men are often seen as in charge sexually and of their sexuality, abuse can really undercut this social stereotype and force silence upon its victim.
There are no reliable estimates of how many people experience childhood sexual abuse. Many survivors keep their experiences secret, so police statistics don't provide good estimates, researchers say. Surveying the population turns up much higher levels of sexual abuse than recorded police reports, but even those studies have weaknesses: Survivors may not feel comfortable disclosing their experience even on a survey. Question wording may affect the responses. Even taking answers via telephone or in person can change people's willingness to answer.
Because of under reporting, it's difficult to know whether there are many differences between the sexual abuse experiences of boys and girls. One study of 226 girls and 64 boys between the ages of 10 and 15 who disclosed sexual assault to a Childrens Resource Centre found that boys are less likely than girls to report the abuse within 72 hours (a critical time period that could have implications for gathering evidence to bring criminal charges).
Boys were also more likely to have been exposed to pornography during the abuse, and to have had pornography made of them. Girls were more likely to have multiple abusers, while boys typically had one perpetrator, often another minor who was older than them. Girls were more likely to say they'd tell a friend first about abuse, while boys listed their mother as their first contact.
But boys and girls who are sexually abused respond in the same ways. They feel fear, confusion and sometimes anger. Both genders are at higher risk for psychiatric conditions including anxiety and depression later in life. And both genders face stigma if they chose to report their abuse.
But for men, that stigma can take on a unique tone. Because guys aren't "supposed to be" sexual abuse victims, they may have trouble understanding that they're being abused. Most perpetrators of abuse are male, so male victims also tend to struggle with issues of sexuality in ways many female victims do not and when perpetrators are women sexually abusing guys, it's just as harmful to the victims, but society is prone to shrug it off as a "Mrs. Robinson" thing.
During research interviews, motivations of the perpetrators of child sex abusers often vary, but there are some common themes, abusers go for vulnerability, most are repeat offenders. Some assault both women and children, because they get their gratification from controlling another person, and contrary to the idea of "stranger danger", most perpetrators know their abusers.
Breaking the silence around sexual abuse and exploitation is vital for both prevention and healing.
If you feel you are being abused or exploited or fear that someone you know is then please get in touch 01793 250951 or call the NSPCC 0808 800 5000