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one of our weekly chat-based support groupsfacilitated by a counselor. Many people have absorbed the myths to some extent. Below, we outline the myths and the facts—to encourage understanding and healing. Before exploring the myths, though, here are some key facts:.
Successful men are depicted as never being vulnerable, either physically or emotionally. Whether you agree with that definition of masculinity or not, boys are not men. They are children.
They are weaker and more vulnerable Enjoyed being molested stories those who sexually abuse or exploit them — who use their greater size, strength and knowledge to manipulate or coerce boys into unwanted sexual experiences and staying silent. This is usually done from a position of authority e.
What happens to any of us as children does not need to define us as adults or men. It is important to remember that 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18 see The 1 in 6 Statisticand that those boys can grow up to be strong, powerful, courageous and healthy men. Examples are found in our Male Survivor Stories section, and there are many others out there. Many boys and men believe this myth and feel lots of guilt and shame because they Enjoyed being molested stories physically aroused during the abuse.
It is important to understand that males can respond to sexual stimulation with an erection or even an orgasm — even in sexual situations that are traumatic or painful. Those who sexually use and abuse boys know this. They often attempt to maintain secrecy, and to keep the abuse going, by telling the child that his sexual response shows he was a willing participant and complicit in the abuse. Boys are not seeking to be sexually abused or exploited.
They can, however, be manipulated into experiences they do not like, or even understand, at the time. See Guilt and Shame. There are many situations where a boy, after being gradually manipulated with attention, affection and gifts, feels like he wants such attention and sexual experiences.
In an otherwise lonely life for example, one lacking in parental attention or affection — even for a brief periodthe attention and pleasure of sexual contact from someone the boy admires can feel good. Most studies show that the long term effects of sexual abuse and assault can be quite damaging for both males and females. One large study, conducted by the U. Centers for Disease Control, found that the sexual abuse of boys was more likely to involve penetration of some kind, which is associated with greater psychological harm.
Many boys suffer harm because adults who could believe them and help are reluctant, or refuse, to acknowledge what happened and the harm it caused. And that, of course, makes it harder to seek needed help in the midst of the abuse, or even years later when help is still needed. Studies about this question suggest that men who have sexually abused a boy most often identify as heterosexual and often are involved in adult heterosexual relationships at the time of abusive interaction.
There is no indication that a gay man is more likely to engage in sexually abusive behavior than a straight man and some studies even suggest it is less likely. The sexual orientation of the abusive person is not really relevant to the abusive interaction. A man who sexually abuses or exploits boys is not engaging in a homosexual interaction — any more than men who sexually abuse or exploit girls are engaging in heterosexual behavior.
He is a deeply confused individual who, for various reasons, desires to sexually use or abuseand has acted on that desire.
There are different theories about how sexual orientation develops, but experts in human sexuality do not believe that sexual abuse or premature sexual experiences play a ificant role. Sexual orientation is a complex issue and there is no single answer or theory that explains why someone identifies himself as homosexual, heterosexual or bi-sexual.
It is common, however, for boys and men who have been abused to express confusion about their sexual identity and orientation, whether they identify as straight, gay or bi-sexual. Men who identify as gay or bi-sexual may wonder if their sexual orientation was influenced in any way by the abusive experience or may even be the cause of their orientation. Also, many boys abused by males wonder if something about them sexually attracted the person who abused them and will unknowingly attract other males who will misuse them.
While these are understandable fears, they are not true. This myth, like several of the others, comes from the image of masculinity that boys learn from very early. In reality, premature, coerced or otherwise abusive or exploitive sexual experiences are never positive — whether they are imposed by an older sister, sister of a friend, baby sitter, neighbor, aunt, mother, or any other female in a position of power over a boy. At a minimum, they cause confusion and insecurity.
A gay man who experienced sexual arousal when abused by a female may wonder whether it means that he is actually straight or wonder what it means that he was chosen by a woman or older girl. Being sexually used or abused, whether by males or females, can cause a variety of other emotional and psychological problems. To be used as a sexual object by a more powerful person, male or female, is never a good thing, and can cause lasting harm.
This myth is especially dangerous because it can create terrible fear in boys and men.
Sadly, boys and men who tell of being sexually abused often are viewed more as potential perpetrators than as guys who need support. While it is true that many though by no means all who sexually abuse children have histories of sexual abuse, it is NOT true that most boys who are sexually abused go on to sexually abuse others.
What if I Already Have? For any man harmed by unwanted or abusive sexual experiences — and anyone who wants to support him — becoming free of these myths is necessary to overcoming the effects of the abuse, and to achieving the life he wants and deserves.
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