Healing from Sexual Abuse As a Man  - Skylark Counselling

Male sexual abuse is more common than you might think, affecting approximately 1 out of 6 men and boys. However, facts about this topic are not commonly known, leaving many men who are subjected to abuse to think that their experience is abnormal. In part, this is also caused by many myths and rumors about what this experience is like for men. Without many resources in place these myths go unchecked and continue in our society. Below are some of the most common myths about male sexual abuse. Hopefully this will shed some light on a topic that does not get enough attention.   

Common myths and misconceptions: 

  • Men cannot be sexually assaulted or abused.  
    This is simply false. Research tells us that 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused before the age of 18. This number is actually just a conservative estimate as male survivors are less likely to report sexual violence than women. Unfortunately, the exact number is most likely quite a bit higher.  
  • Sexual Abuse is less harmful to boys than girls. 
    Sexual abuse is harmful to people of any gender, there is no group of people who are not harmed when sexually abused. What is extremely unfortunate is that boys are often celebrated for having a sexual experience regardless of their age or the age of the person engaging in sexual activity with them. So when a boy is abused by an older woman, he is often told that he was lucky or should have enjoyed it. This can be very harmful to a young person, and abuse in any form should never be celebrated.  
  • If a boy/man experienced sexual arousal during the abuse, he wanted it/enjoyed it. 
    Physical arousal in boys/men is a biological reaction to stimulation. Being physically aroused does not mean that you wanted to engage in a sexual experience. Many men blame themselves for the abuse, or think it was their fault if they had this reaction. It is never your fault for being abused, and arousal does not equal consent.  

Because there is a such a lack of resources and information for men who experience sexual abuse, many are left to cope with the fallout of the abuse in whatever way they can. For some this may look like avoiding intimacy, substance use, or isolation. Common symptoms may include but are not limited to:  anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, shame and guilt, or intrusive thoughts. All of these symptoms are common, and highly treatable. Survivors of abuse can (and do) go on to live meaningful and happy lives. As such, there is no need to suffer in silence. If you, or someone you love, is a survivor of sexual abuse please know that counselling services are available to you. Whether you are looking for more information, resources, or therapy, talking to someone is a great place to start.  

Our Skylark team is trained to support any person who experiences trauma, anxiety, avoidance, hesitation, addiction or abuse related to sexual behaviours. Call our clinic today for a free 20-minute Counsellor Match Consultation to be connected with a therapist.

Jenna Mitchell is our specialist for sexual abuse and trauma for men. Jenna also has a strong research background in men’s mental health and sexuality, with a specific focus on supporting clients who have survived sexual trauma. Jenna’s open and warm approach comes across in sessions with a blend of clinical modalities to help meet the needs and goals of her clients. Jenna has a growth mindset and her passion for mental health shines in the way she problem solves, builds treatment plans, and shifts psychological patterns to tangible goals with her clients. Outside of the therapy space, Jenna loves reading thrillers, eating sushi, and exploring the outdoors, and is perseverant in finding the research about latest therapeutic tools and skills. 

Resources:  

Crisis line for sexual assault:  

https://endingviolencecanada.org/sexual-assault-centres-crisis-lines-and-support-services

Canadian Center for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse: 

https://cc4ms.ca

References + Books for Male Survivors of Abuse: 
  • Men too by Kelli Palfy 
  • Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine  
  • Trauma and Recovery by  Judith Herman 
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