Men victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse

Today, we finished the "Acknowledge" course for men sexually assaulted and molested during early childhood, adolescence or adulthood. Everyone commented on the healing transformation observed in participants in just a few weeks.

Although society may perceive men as incapable of being victims of sexual assault simply because they have a penis, the last 20 years coaching victims of sexual assault shows me the opposite. Perhaps the greatest awareness comes from the reality that at least 1 out of 10 men in USA suffers as a result sexual abuse.  Whereas reports 1 out of 6 men have experience some form sexual assault, abuse before age 16.  

The traumatization that follows the abuse then and years later can be devastating.   When an adult perpetrator harms by sexual rape, molestation, fondling, we consider it sexual abuse.   From my experience coaching male victims sexual assault, whether the perpetrator involved a male or female adult, or older child, the aftermath seems to be equally devastating and traumatic.

Also it’s important to realize especially when involving minors that sexual abuse does not need to include physical penetration, or contact. For example, some forms of child sexual abuse and molestation might include:

  • Voyeurism or exposing oneself to a minor

  • Sex trafficking

  • Sexualized talk

  • Intercourse

  • Masturbation in the presence of a minor or forcing the minor to masturbate

  • Fondling

  • Sexting

  • Child pornography possession

  • Sex of any kind with a minor, vaginal, oral, or anal

  • Any sexual conduct that is harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare.

Trauma reflects a type of stress derived from exposure to horrific terrible events that are often outside the realm of daily human experience.  These events are usually intense, disturbing and distressing, emotionally painful and can be experienced directly or witnessed. 

Sometimes our trauma symptoms of male sexual assault include, avoidance, overcompensation, hyper-vigilance, mood alterations, negative limiting beliefs, that are discounted as just normal occurrence until they become sabotaging and dysfunctional.

Trauma responses varies across individuals.  The incessant experiencing of trauma often continues when we male victims of sexual assault do not seek assistant or find ways to effectively process the events. 

Men can experience intense traumatic episodes years after the initial abuse. Their recovery is prolonged because they do not find help.  Especially, for men sexually assaulted by a female perpetrator. We downplay the impact of trauma due to societal stigma and stereotypes. Plus we just do not give much consideration to sexual traumatization when perpetrated by women.  Certainly not an exhaustive list, some trauma symptoms or coping manifestations sexually victimized men may experience include:

  • PTSD

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Depression

  • Drug & alcohol abuse

  • Risky delinquent behaviors

  • Promiscuity

  • Anger management issues

  • Fear of sex (avoid, obligated, feeling sexless)

  • Negative feelings of disgust, anger when touched

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Feeling distant or not connective during sex

  • Compulsive behaviors

  • Inability to maintain relationships (work, romantic, friendships)

  • Stressed about holding kids, changing diaper, etc

These are simply scratching the surface. If you are experiencing such symptoms following your sexual assault, abuse or unwanted sexual experience realize this is common.  Your feelings are entirely valid and understandable.  This type of abuse is a deep penetrating betrayal of human trust, love and affection.  It’s an attack on the essence of who you are a person and human being. No matter the symptom or reaction it’s important to realize they are all ways in processing what happened to you. It is vitally important for men to press forward in working through the sexual abuse and find caring nonjudgmental, unbiased support via a safe friend, clinician, coach, therapist, respected help that is knowledgeable about sexual assault and men. 

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