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Sexual Abuse

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Follow these tips on dealing with sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is something we often associate with male assailants and female victims, but in reality, an equal (and possibly greater) number of boys are sexually molested during their childhood. Whether it occurs in the home, at school or next door, the memories are permanent and the psychological trauma often carries over into adulthood.

While the tragedy of male and female sexual abuse is equal in nature, coping with such experiences can prove more difficult for men due to the unnatural stoicism society tends to demand from them. This sex-biased expectation can place a great strain on anyone dealing with sexual abuse, often resulting in issues that can affect an otherwise perfect relationship or sex life.

Read on as we discuss approaches for dealing with sexual abuse.

About sexual abuse

Statistically speaking, approximately one in six boys will have experienced some form of sexual abuse prior to reaching the age of 18. Realistically speaking, the number is actually likely to be far, far greater, given the understandable reluctance of children to report such crimes. It’s also important to note that the term “sexual abuse” covers an incredibly broad spectrum, and is not limited to a singular act or a specific type of perpetrator. Sexual abuse occurs at the hands of fathers, mothers, siblings, teachers, next-door neighbors, strangers, and even other children. Additionally, while we tend to assume sexual abuse means direct physical contact occurred, sexual abuse also extends to inappropriate physical exposure and even discussing inappropriate sexual topics with a child; you needn’t have been physically molested to have been the victim of sexual abuse.

Effects of sexual abuse

The effects of sexual abuse can be exceptionally long-lasting and one's childhood experiences can easily spill over into adulthood. Most commonly, such trauma is reflected in a man’s personal relationships, though he is unlikely to be conscious of the cause. Emotional unavailability, for example, is quite typical of a male survivor of sexual abuse. These men have great difficulty allowing themselves to trust anyone, which creates tremendous distance between them and the women in their lives. Feelings of guilt and shame, particularly if the sexual abuse took place at the hands of another male, often lead male survivors of sexual abuse to question their own masculinity, which can create a horrific sense of performance anxiety in the bedroom.

In fact, sexual dysfunction is quite commonplace, whether limited to only being able to sustain an erection in certain sexual positions, or extending to only being able to orgasm via masturbation with no one else present. Even nightmares can have an unfavorable effect on a man’s sex life, particularly if it leads to insomnia; it’s difficult to perform well in the bedroom if you’re only averaging a few hours of sleep nightly.

Fortunately, these issues are usually treatable. Sexual dysfunction in these cases often stems from the psychological, which means a professional therapist can help you overcome the problem. The same goes for insomnia and other sleep-related issues; dealing with the sexual abuse in your past will likely reduce, and possibly eliminate, these common effects. Even emotional unavailability can be kept in check once you’re able to trust others on a deeper level.

More ways to make dealing with sexual abuse a little easier…

Recovering from sexual abuse

Recovery does not happen overnight, but it’s well within the grasp of any male who has made the decision to empower himself and recover the life that was interrupted during his childhood. It is important to note that neither drugs nor alcohol will aid you in this recovery. They may create a temporary state of solace or amnesia, but this can, and often does, lead to addiction -- which will only compound the initial issue. Therefore, it’s extremely important that drugs and/or alcohol not be used as an emotional crutch when dealing with sexual abuse.

Instead, it’s important to reach out for professional help when it’s needed, and it’s equally important that men realize it’s perfectly OK to need it; therapy is not just for women and the weak, and no one is going to look down on you for taking care of yourself. When dealing with sexual abuse, there are numerous websites and hotlines available, each of which can point you in the direction best suited to your needs; and are packed with helpful information, while 1-800-656-HOPE and 1-800-799-SAFE are toll-free hotlines where you can speak to trained professional 24 hours a day. You can speak or surf anonymously, so please don’t let fear of embarrassment or shame prevent you from seeking the help you deserve.

Also, realize that it’s perfectly OK to share your past with your woman. We are not going to judge you, and we are not going to view you differently. On the contrary, we will feel that much closer to you for having been trusted with something so delicate in nature. We already know you’re man enough, that’s why we’re with you; we are not going to suddenly think you’re inadequate because something beyond your control happened when you were a child.

getting help

Dealing with sexual abuse is by no means an easy task, especially if the victim fears his community’s response to his seeking help. In the past, society may well have frowned on a man seeking therapy for such things, but those days are long gone. No one is going to think poorly of any male survivor doing his best to deal with his past and get on with his life. Nor is anyone going to think you asked for the abuse, enjoyed the abuse or any other such notion. Seeking help is the first step toward being able to have normal, healthy relationships with those you care about. Sadly, many victims don’t believe they deserve such happiness, but we really must emphasize that you do. More importantly, if you make use of the resources available, you'll realize you deserve it too.


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