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Section 8
Double Standards, Abuse from an Older Female,
& How to 'Make a Floor Plan'

Question 8 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed the condition of rape trauma syndrome in young male clients and its stages: acute and long-term.

In this section, we will examine the ways in which social pressures affect a sexually abused boy's development: gender role identity, double standard, and age-disparate heterosexual abuse.

Three Effects of Social Pressure on Development

♦ Effect #1 - Gender Expectations
As you know, a small sense of gender identity can become established at the age of three. Later on, the stereotyped roles of society soon begin to make an impression on the mind of a child. What is expected of both males and females form from those learned sex and gender roles.

For instance, in our culture, males are considered to have a greater sexual drive, to masturbate more, to be more knowledgeable about and experienced with sex, to be more sexually active at a younger age, and to be the initiator of sexual contact. The expression of a "real man" suggests one that has frequent sexual encounters.

♦ Effect #2 - Double Standards
On the other end of the spectrum, girls are expected to be more passive in their sexual relationships. For instance, a girl caught having sex outside of her established relationship is labeled "a slut". As you know, this is one of the common examples of this double standard society has placed on males and females.

The idiom of "boys will be boys" gives another example of this. Boys who are considered effeminate in any way are quickly ostracized or they're behavior is modified by parents or authority figures. However, a girl who is a tomboy is more accepted and said to be "just one of the guys". Also, consider that male masculinity is strongly linked to sexual prowess, whereas, say, in girls, femininity is linked to other things such as verbal usage and physical beauty.

This strong sense of "being masculine" can confuse sexually abused boys and cause a great fear of losing their sexual identity. Also, the double standard that society has placed on male and females can greatly confuse the sexually abused boy.

Stephen, age 13, was abused by his father's friend while they were on a hunting trip together. Stephen, who always associated hunting and guns with masculinity, now cannot see the connection because he associates it with his abuse. Stephen also feels ashamed about being aroused by the abuse, even though he also feels victimized.

Stephen stated, "I always used to like girls, y'know, before it happened. But now, I don't really have those feelings for girls as much as I used to. Now, I have these feelings for my dad's friend that are really opposite. Like, I hate him but I also remember how it felt when he did that stuff to me and some of it felt good." I asked him if he felt that way about any of his other male friends. Stephen responded, "No, not at all."

As you can see, Stephen's concerns over his sexuality only related to the abuse itself, not some everlasting affect on his masculinity. For a technique on addressing a sexual abuse client's confusion over sexuality, refer to section 6.

♦ Effect #3 - Abuse from an Older Female
Another societal obstacle to the treatment of sexually abused boys is in the case in which a young boy is abused by an older woman. Many times, this is not viewed with the same stigma as when a much older male abuses a younger female. It is rightfully disdainful and horrifying that an older man would take advantage of a young girl.

However, in the same situation only with the genders reversed, this can be viewed as an early introduction to manhood. This could possibly negate the anxiety that sexually abused boys have in common with abused girls. Even further, he may become an object of jealousy from his peers and older males. This could confuse his predicament even more.

To correct this, in the clinical word, the term sexual misuse has been used to describe sexual behaviors between children and adults. Brassard describes sexual misuse as "an experience that interferes with, or has the potential for interfering with a child's healthy development".

Thirteen year old David was sexually abused by his female teacher during detention one day. When he told his closest friend, Nathan, he reacted, not with shock, but with respect. Nathan said, "Dude, you're a man now." However, David didn't feel that he was any more mature than he had been. In fact, he felt uncomfortable, depressed, and confused.

David stated, "I don't get it. I wasn't raped by my uncle or anything. I mean, she was a girl, and I should have liked it. I guess it really wasn't that big of a deal."

♦ Technique: Making a Floor Plan
To help David understand that his boundaries had been violated and that to minimize the abuse would not make it go away, I asked him and the rest of his therapy group to try the "Making a Floor Plan".

-- Step # 1 - First, I asked all the boys to close their eyes and choose one particular molestation memory to think about: maybe the most upsetting memory, the first time, or the place where it happened most often.
-- Step # 2 - I then told them to picture the place in his mind with as much detail as he could remember.
-- Step # 3 - I then instructed them to make a floor plan of the place in which the specific incident occurred.
-- Step # 4 - After they were all finished, I asked them to share their floor plan with the rest of the group and encouraged them to talk about the details of the abuse. By sharing the details, they can more closely relate their emotions to the abuse.

David made a floor plan of his classroom. He then related, "She was on top of me and touching me on the crotch." I asked David how he felt about this abuse now that he could look back on it. He said, "I felt used." By becoming more vocal and frank about the abuse, David could more honestly talk about his emotions.

In this section, we discussed the ways in which social pressures affect a sexually abused boy's development: gender role identity, double standard, and age-disparate heterosexual abuse.

In the next section, we will examine the way that the four types of environments can affect sexually abused boys: the evasive environment; the environmental vacuum; the seductive environment; and the overtly sexual environment.

What are the three social pressures that affect a sexually abused boy's development?
To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 9
Table of Contents