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Sexual Abuse of Males

by Dr. Sidney W. Langston

Surprisingly little attention has been paid to males who were molested as children. Unfortunately, this is not due to an absence of male victims.


Research demonstrates that one in three girls and one in seven boys are sexually abused in childhood.  Because it has been under-reported, the incidence of sexual abuse in males is thought to be as high as one in four. In general, our society encourages the disclosure of female sexual abuse, but not the disclosure of male sexual abuse. Because of this dearth of information on male sexual abuse, the long-term impact of such victimization is largely unknown. Nor is there much data on potential differences of the effects of abuse in males and females. However, more research on this topic is beginning to appear in the literature.


Abuse typically starts for males around six to nine years of age. Research has also demonstrated incest accounts for 50% of male abuse cases.


Incest is any contact or interaction (visual, verbal or psychological) between a child/adolescent and a parent or other family member when the child/adolescent is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other person. Incest includes a variety of behaviors such as: staring at body parts; touching genitalia during rough play; gently rubbing the genital area; sodomy or telling sexually stimulating jokes/stories. In any inappropriate sexual encounter, the perpetrator absolutely bears the whole responsibility. If you are a victim, do not let anyone ever convince you that you are in any way responsible.


Research is beginning to demonstrate that childhood sexual abuse is extremely traumatic for males. If there is little affection between father and son, sexual abuse may appear to fill the son's natural, healthy needs for fatherly touching. Early sexual experiences are more likely to produce confusion and fear.


Emotional development is stunted at the age the abuse occurs, although growth in other areas of their lives continues. When abuse occurs between the age of two and six, it can interfere with gender development. Young male children who are victims of abuse do not have the opportunity to understand what constitutes a healthy expression of their sexuality.

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