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Surviving and Living

Reader Comments and Insights

Male Survivors of Child Sex Abuse

 

Since we began this section of MenWeb, we've received some interesting, thoughtful and thought-provoking e-mail. With the authors' permission, we'd like to share them with you.

This page is not about men's personal stories of abuse and healing. For that, go to our Articles page or our Witness! page. This page is the "public commentary" page, like a "letters to the editor" page.


 

A woman writes:

I am a female survivor of infant sexual abuse by my mother. I'm also a healer, and I think this is a hidden issue for many of my patients.

It was wonderful to read your page. So many me who were "initiated" by mature women as very young children through being masturbated by them cannot admit how humiliating this was because in "macho" terms this is supposed to be just great. Of course the woman's bad feelings about her own sexuality and the transmission of this to the child is never discussed.

Thanks again for your courage.

Peter Urban from San Francisco writes:

I was interested to find the article on male victims of incest abuse, because, as the author so eloquently states, the topic has been all but completely left out of the literature of incest.

I would not dispute in the least the notion that men perpetrate incest abuse to a far, far greater extent than do women, nor the idea that fathers and step-fathers are probably the single largest segment of the incest perpetrator populace; but this does not create an argument for completely excluding study of incest cases wherein a woman is the perpetrator and a male the victim.

Frankly, the lack of female perpetrated incest information is not the only shortcoming in the literature. The reality is that the overwhelming bulk of the information published deals almost exclusively with father/daughter abuse, while sexual relations--non-consensual or consensual--between siblings or cousins, for example, is nearly absent in the literature as well.

I think the reason for this is that we completely contextualize these circumstances differently, and have a difficult time recognizing the one type of sexual behavior to be incestuous, or even to be sexual behavior at times; while the other, we cannot conceive of in any other manner than abusive. To illustrate my point I will give an example I encountered in reading a book on women in various parts of the Arab world. In the chapter devoted to women's lives in Lebanon, both and interviewee and the author noted that it is common practice during the period of a boy's life that he remains near exclusively in the company of women--in the informally gender segregated Islamic homes--for his sisters, aunts, mother, and even grandmother or female friends of the family to manually stimulate the male child's penis when he gets cranky, in order to placate him and keep him from whining. The practice was reported primarily to demonstrate women's doting on pleasing men, but did not raise the issue of this practice constituting incestuous abuse at all.

While in the US clearly this would not be a common practice, I personally have been present at social gatherings when a group of adult women congregate around a new baby cooing and teasing. On occasion, however, when changing a wet diaper or bathing the infant left its tiny genitals exposed, I have seen and been told of by women of the circle (as well as from familial circles outside my own) of some of the women commenting on the baby's penis--usually making some remark about what a Casanova he'll grow to be--while casually touching, or even kissing, the child's genitals. When this occurs, no one has reacted with shock, disgust, or alarm--instead the matter is laughed off and forgotten immediately after. I would ask anyone to consider what the likely reaction would be if the gender of the baby and adult were reversed.

My point is this, our society has so de-sexualized women (or removed sex from the realm of their own interests and desires) and made erotic behavior so exclusively the domain of men, we do not perceive even such sexually explicit behavior as noted above to be sexual--literally the idea often does not occur to us. Because the action is not eroticized in our social perspective, however, it becomes difficult to assert with any certainty that the behavior constitutes abuse.

That is not to say that boys cannot be the victims of sexual abuse by women, clearly they can, but it is likely that such contact will be perceived by the victim as far less traumatic in the majority of cases than would a female victim of a male abuser. This may be a good argument for not covering the topic to as great an extent in works on child abuse--though it doesn't excuse complete omission--but it does not in anyway create a case for excluding it from the literature on incest. In fact, the omission skews the total social reality of incest in contemporary society.

We need better science and less moralizing when undertaking the study of sexual behavior of all type in society. Such an approach better enables us to reach a understanding of sexuality in its actual form--abusive and non-abusive, thereby permitting us to address that which victimizes with clearer understanding.

Another man writes:

I was just browsing and started reading some of your articles. I, too, am a SAS and I work with offenders in the Vermont Department of Corrections. So I can see it from both sides.

My main stay for sanity is "There but for the grace of God go I" They have chosen to be victims of their past and to let it affect their lives, and the lives of the ones that they have hurt, whereas I have chosen to not forgive, not forget (I don't remember most of it), but to live with it, draw from it and use it to my advantage and to the benefit of others. I see the inmates that I work with and hear of the hurt that they have caused. Some voice it that way, others just say "I was charged with". It is a long road from the ones who say "I was" to the ones who say "I did", and an even longer road to get to the point where they can say with conviction "I did and I choose not to again."

Yes there are those who are predisposed to be pedophiles but even they can choose not to act on their impulses. Even though I have liked what I have read so far I think you should give a voice to the people who want to be survivors.

Linda Halliday-Sumner writes:

I was delighted to see information by Scott Abraham on women who abuse. I have worked in the field of sexual abuse in Canada for the past eighteen years in every aspect. I have been "criticized" since beginning in 1980 for my continual talks about female offenders. I found in the early 80s only about 1 1/2 to 3% of my cases involved female offenders. In the past 4 years that has increased to 32%. I am currently working on researching my data base of over 5,000 cases to provide updated information as to the prevalence and differences of the "mind set" of the female offender as compared to the "male offender". I have also found the victim of sexual abuse by females, particularly young males, acts out in a much more "bizarre" fashion than those victims abused by the male counterpart. I will be reading the information more carefully and thank you for providing it. If you would care to check out my URL it is at http://mars.ark.com/~allyn

By contrast, "Christine" (brooks@snowcrest.net) writes:

The aritcle I just read ("take care of your mother") was stupid, hypocritical, and a waste of my time. Whoever wrote it is an idiot with serious personal emotional problems which should not be permitted to be voiced in a society which doesnt need whiny "everyone sucks, and if I could tell everyone how I would make them behave if i ruled the world, it would be a utopia" attitude. i hope you get locked up, and i never have to see your sorry-ass publications again.

 

Dear Christine,

Thank you for your letter to the editor.

Our site for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse contains a special page, just for reader feedback. We will be sure and feature your letter to us on that page. I think that it's very important for people to know that there are people who share your viewpoint regarding men who tell their personal stories about being sexually abused by their mothers.

I take it you have the same view regarding all the "whiney women" who write about being sexually abused by their fathers, as well.

Bert H. Hoff

WebMaster, MenWeb

From: "Cristine" <brooks@snowcrest.net>
whatever. just keep that guy off the streets. He's a natural born dictator if i ever saw one.

Another woman writes:

Dear Scott,

I am a licensed psychotherapist married to a licensed psychotherapist. As a woman, I have my own history of abuse. My husband was sexually abused as a child by his father, and, if anything, I think that it has been harder for him to come to terms with his abuse (which, in reality, was more serious than mine) He has spent years working through this. One of the difficulties has been the lack of resources--though this is getting better over time. I APPLAUD you and your great website. Yes, you are right--boys are molested in numbers close to those of girls, and all children are injured by these abuses. Yes, women perpetrate as well, and depending upon the relationship, have the same potential for serious damage to the child.

I will share this site with my husband--I haven't had the chance yet, as I just discovered it.

I have worked with both male and female victims, and know that resources are so necessary. I can only hope that the increasing exposure makes it easier for men to disclose abuse. Culturally, it is easier for women--not necessarily any easier as children, but as adults, women more easily disclose. Men have a harder time--either struggling with "what it means about me" or taking the blame, or dismissing it as "something out of the past."

I am a firm believer that serious abuse creates a series of problems, when untreated, that may underlie the lack of adjustment to and mastery of life that results in the inability of many men to function well in life, resulting in acting-out behaviors, and resultant problems with the law. I know this to be true at least sometimes, as I have had to opportunity to work in the County Jail, doing classes on Domestic Violence, and know that many of the men were molested as children.

In the midst of this pain and loss, I am encouraged by the development of any and all resources.

      arlequin@jps.net

A survivor of sexual abuse by a female writes to invite people to join her e-mail support list:

I am a 47 year old female abuse survivor. Abuse is not gender biased and this is why I will never join just a women's abuse group. I am starting an online discussion group for survivors and if anyone who reads your site would like to join, they are welcome to contact me at hawkfan@ozramp.net.au.

Best wishes

Sue


 

Are you a survivor, or do you know one? Do you need help knowing where to turn? Do you have a story you'd like to tell, or a treatment approach you'd like to talk about?

E-mail Scott! Talk to us! He will respond privately and, as appropriate (with full regard for permission and anonymity, of course!) add selected questions and answers to a Web page we're designing, "Questions and Answers: Male Survivors of Child Sex Abuse."

If you have public comments you'd like to make about the Web site or about childhood sexual abuse, E-mail Bert Talk to us! Here's your chance to add your perspectives and insights on the issue, as a therapist, an educator, a relative, or a member of the community. This is like a "letters to the editor" page.


Articles

Book Reviews, Books Available on-line

Witnessing the process ...

 

The therapeutic process of recovery from childhood sexual abuse rarely leads itself to neat, logical summations of such complex emotions and thoughts.

We invite men to contribute to this section with snippets of their own writing, that need not be "completed works," but that offer a glimpse into the complexity of the healing process.

We invite you to check out the WITNESS section, to read and perhaps to participate.

Return to Male CSA Survivors home page


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