Differences in Male Victims

Many similarities exist between male and female child sexual abuse victims. Both male and female victims:

Differences between male and female victims relate primarily to social expectations of males and to sexual identity. Some of these differences include:

  • Males being less likely to report than female victims
  • Males minimizing the impact of abuse. When abused by an older female, male victims may perceive it a privilege, rather than abuse. 
  • Males having concerns about sexual identity
  • Males being abused more often by non-family members
  • Males being abused more often in presence of other victims
  • Force being used more frequently with male victims

 Other consequences to male victims:

  • Feeling less masculine than other males
  • Believing that female partners will not want them
  • Feeling that they did something to encourage the abuse and questioning sexual identity
  • Possibly overcompensating by being aggressive towards females
  • Experiencing a variety of sexual problems as adult
  • Possibly concluding that being a perpetrator is part of the role of being a man

Male victims may not receive the same degree of empathy and concern that female victims do during agency response, investigation, and interviewing. This is related to the cultural expectation that males can protect themselves better than females. Males are socialized to view themselves as more aggressive, and females, more passive. Following an abusive incident, male victims may perceive themselves as weak or cowardly. It is possible that adolescent male victims may be asked why they did not fight or protect themselves from the abuse. This increases the victim's sense of guilt and shame and misplaces responsibility for the abuse.

Male victims question their sexual identity more often than female victims because the abusive experience is usually perpetrated by a male. Male victims may struggle with sexual orientation and identity. Sexuality can also become associated with the abuse, and this may negatively impact victims in their adult sexual lives. Some male victims struggle with sexual function, such as erection, premature ejaculation, and fear of sexual activity due to the abusive experience.   


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