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Section 6
Effects of Male Child Sexual Abuse on Sexual Identity

Question 6 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed various challenges inherent when treating sexually abused boys such as: dependency on physical contact; drastic mood shifts; failure to remember session content; dysfunctional attempts to regain power and control; and premature disclosure of the details of the abuse. Also, we discussed how to address these challenges.

As you probably have observed as have I, many sexually abused male clients are concerned whether or not their abuse will have an effect on their sexuality.

In this section, we will examine the effect of male sexual abuse on sexual identity.

Effects of Abuse on Sexuality

Effect #1 - Debunking Misconceptions
A common misconception in the issue of the abuse of boys is the client's belief that he antagonized or provoked the abuser in some way as to deserve or wanted the assault to happen. Often, this also leads to a belief of repressed homosexual tendencies. Here's an example, Tony, age 15, was having doubts already about his sexuality when he was abused by a coach at his house.

Tony stated, "I didn't do enough to stop it. I think maybe deep down, I wanted it to happen because I thought I was already gay. I told him to stop, but everything else I did almost made it look like I really wanted it to happen." Tony's ambivalent emotions, those of resentment and attraction, as you know are common among society's view of homosexuality today. There is an innate belief that anyone seemingly obstinate in their sexual tendencies wants to be abused in such a manner.

I reminded Tony that, as in the case of male and female abuse, no one wants, truly wants, to be the victim of sexual abuse. I asked Tony, "Did you really want to feel disempowered or weakened?" Tony replied, "No. I wanted my first experience to be better." As you can see, by emphasizing the feeling of disempowerment instead of sexuality, Tony can view his abuse as a boundary violation, not sexual intercourse, which involves consent. Let me repeat that .

As you can see, by emphasizing the feeling of disempowerment instead of sexuality, Tony can view his abuse as a boundary violation, not sexual intercourse, which involves consent.

♦ Technique: Affirmations
To help Tony with his feelings of guilt, I found the "Affirmations" Therapy Strategy helpful. I told Tony to make affirmative statements about himself that would release him of the responsibility of inducing the abuse.

The following are guidelines for Tony to follow:
-- #1. Start with "I" and use short, simple phrases that are easy to remember.
-- #2. Write each affirmation in the present tense, as if it were already so.
-- #3. Use positive words and statements.
-- #4. Keep the affirmations in different locations so that you can review them regularly.
-- #5. Repeat affirmations at least twice daily, preferably aloud.

These five points are outlined in the back of your manual.
Tony chose to keep his affirmations in such places as, his wallet or his private journal. He created such afformations as "I believe that the molestation was my uncle's fault", "I deserve to be safe and protected at all times", and "I made the best choices I could at the time." Over time, Tony began to incorporate the phrases into his self-confidence.

Effect #2 - Homophobia
As you are aware, rape is matter of conquest rather than sexual interaction. It is a boundary violation. Many times, however, clients are surprised to learn that most male rapists who abuse males associate themselves with heterosexuality rather than homosexuality. This arises due to the fact that many young men feel aroused during their abuse.

Immediately, they come to the conclusion that deep inside, they must harbor homosexual tendencies. Jared, age 14, a client abused by his uncle, related, "After it happened, after a couple of months, I found that I couldn't feel close to anyone. I almost felt a sort of connection to my uncle, and I hated myself for that. I thought, I had to be gay." I explained to Jared that the abuse was not sexual, that it had been a matter of justification of power.

Effect #3 - Closet Aggressor

Often, the client believes his male abuser is actually gay because of the repressive-aggressive theory. This is a frequent belief that states proclaimed "gay bashers" are themselves homosexual. However, they fear to admit their sexuality and lash out at those who represent what they themselves repress inside.

This kind of thinking only enhances the conviction in clients that the abuse was a sexual encounter, not a power struggle. I tend to disagree with this line of thought, because it harms the process of desexualizing the abuse.

♦ Technique: Sexuality Quiz
To help Jared with his misconceptions over his sexual identity, I used the "Sexuality Quiz". I asked Jared to answer true or false to the ten following statements:

-- 1. When sexual abuse of children occurs, a stranger most often does it.
-- 2. Only submissive, dependent, weak, or emotional boys are victimized.
-- 3. Homosexuality is classified as a psychiatric disorder.
-- 4. If a boy does not like sexual contact with a girl, he must be homosexual.
-- 5. If a boy has sexual contact with another male, it means he is gay.
-- 6. We know the causes of homosexuality.
-- 7. All males who are sexually abused as children grow up to be offenders.
-- 8. Sexual abuse of boys is less serious and has fewer consequences than abuse of girls. Boys experience little impact, either physically or psychologically.
-- 9. Most gay men want to be women and most lesbians want to be men.
-- 10. According to a well-known researcher, about half of the male population and one-fourth of the female population report having had a homosexual experience.

After he had finished taking the quiz, I told Stephen that the only statement that was true was the last one that states "about half of the male population and one-fourth of the female population report having had a homosexual experience." After this quiz, Stephen said he felt much less ashamed for his feelings.

This "Sexuality Quiz" is found at the back of your manual.

In this section, we have discussed the effect of male sexual abuse on sexual identity.

In the next section, we will examine the condition of rape trauma syndrome in boy clients and its stages: acute and long-term.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Peterson, Z. D., Beagley, M. C., McCallum, E. B., & Artime, T. M. (2019). Sexual attitudes and behaviors among men who are victims, perpetrators, or both victims and perpetrators of adult sexual assault. Psychology of Violence, 9(2), 221–234.

Reigeluth, C. S., & Addis, M. E. (2016). Adolescent boys’ experiences with policing of masculinity: Forms, functions, and consequences. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 17(1), 74–83.

Tharinger, D. (1990). Impact of child sexual abuse on developing sexuality. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 21(5), 331–337.

What are three ways that a male sexual abuse client's sexuality can be skewed or twisted?
To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 7
Table of Contents