The Effects of Child Sexual Abuse on Males
Are males less harmed by sexual abuse as some people suggest? The following
information helps shed light on how abuse effects boys.
the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse on Men
Chandy, J. M., Blum, R. W., & Resnick, M. D. (1996). Gender-specific
outcomes for sexually abused adolescents. Child Abuse & Neglect , 20 , 1219-1231.
ABSTRACT: This study examined the gender differences in outcomes
related to school performance, suicidal involvement, disordered eating behaviors, sexual risk taking, substance use, and delinquent
behaviors of male (n = 370) and female teenagers (n = 2,681) who self-reported a history of sexual abuse.
It was found that female adolescents, by and large, engaged in internalizing
behaviors and males in externalizing behaviors. Male adolescents were found to be at higher risk than females in poor school
performance, delinquent activities, and sexual risk taking. Female adolescents, on the other hand, showed higher risk for
suicidal ideation and behavior as well as disordered eating. Females showed more frequent use of alcohol. However, male adolescents
exhibited more extreme use of alcohol and more frequent and extreme use of marijuana. Among index female adolescents, protective
factors against adverse correlates included a higher emotional attachment to family, being religious or spiritual, presence
of both parents at home, and a perception of overall health. Factors that augmented adverse correlates for them included a
stressful school environment due to perceived high levels of substance use in and around school, worry of sexual abuse, maternal
alcohol consumption, and physical abuse. For male adolescents, maternal education and parental concern appeared to be protective
Dykman, R. A., McPherson, B., Ackerman, P. T., Newton , J. E., Mooney,
D. M., Wherry, J., & Chaffin, M. (1997). Internalizing and externalizing characteristics of sexually and/or physically
abused children. Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science, 32 , 62-74.
ABSTRACT: This study evaluates the behavioral consequences of childhood
abuse (sexual, physical, or both), with particular focus on prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Three abuse type groups and nonabused controls were contrasted on behavioral rating scales and on structured psychiatric
interview data. The participants (109 abused children and 16 normal control children) were recruited from Arkansas
Children's Hospital and local agencies for abused children. As expected, proportionately more females than males were
Overall, males were rated as more disturbed than females. Type
of abuse did not consistently influence behavioral ratings. Externalizing scores were significantly higher than internalizing
scores in all abused groups. PTSD was diagnosed in 50% of the abused children, with a higher rate for boys who had been
sexually abused as opposed to physically abused only (58% versus 13%). The most frequent comorbid condition with PTSD was
Separation Anxiety. Sexually abused boys were hospitalized for psychiatric treatment at a higher rate than were other abused
Garnefski, N., & Arends, E. (1998). Sexual abuse and adolescent
maladjustment: Differences between male and female victims. Journal of Adolescenc e, 21, 99-107.
ABSTRACT: In this study data from a large representative community
sample of adolescents were analysed to investigate the relationship between a history of sexual abuse and adolescent functioning.
Emotional problems, behavioural problems, suicidal thoughts and behaviour of boys and girls with a history of sexual abuse
were compared to those in a matched control group of boys and girls without such a history.
Both sexually abused boys and girls reported significantly more emotional
problems, behavioural problems, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts than their non-abused counterparts. The results also
indicated that the experience of sexual abuse carried far more consequences for boys than for girls regarding the use of alcohol,
aggressive/criminal behaviour, use of drugs, and the amount of truancy, as well as regarding suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
For example, whereas 2.6% of the non-abused boys reported a former suicide attempt, this percentage was 13 times higher for
the sexually abused boys (26.5%).
The results of this paper lend support to the call for further research
investigating gender differences in response to sexual abuse.
Garnefski, N., & Diekstra, R. F. (1997). Child sexual abuse and
emotional and behavioral problems in adolescence: Gender differences. Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent
Psychiatry, 36 , 323-9.
ABSTRACT: Objective. To compare sexually abused boys with sexually
abused girls and with their non-sexually abused counterparts with regard to (1) the type of mental health problems
they experience; and (2) the number and patterns of such problems.
Method. The sample comprised 745 secondary school students, aged 12
to 19 years, with a self-reported history of sexual abuse (151 boys and 594 girls) and 745 matched students without
such a history. Sexually abused and non-sexually abused boys and girls were compared with regard to four problem
categories: emotional problems, aggressive/criminal behaviors, addiction-risk behaviors, and suicidality.
Results. A larger proportion of sexually abused adolescents than
nonabused adolescents reported problems in the separate categories and in a combination of problem categories. Sexually
abused boys had considerably more emotional and behavioral problems, including suicidality, than their female counterparts.
There were differences between the specific combinations of problem categories reported by sexually abused girls and
boys. These differences could not be attributed to the finding that sexually abused boys were more often the victim
of concurrent physical abuse than sexually abused girls.
Conclusions. The results suggest that although there was a strong
association between being sexually abused and the existence of a multiple problem pattern in both sexes, the aftermath for
boys might be even worse or more complex than for girls.
Holmes, W. C., & Slap, G. B. (1998). Sexual abuse of boys: Definition,
prevalence, correlates, sequelae, and management. Journal of the American Medical Associatio n, 280 , 1855-1862. [Abstract]
The authors reviewed 166 studies of sexual abuse among males. They concluded
that "Sexual abuse of boys appears to be common, underreported, underrecognized, and undertreated."
Holmes, W. C., & Slap, G. B. (1999). Reply to editor. Journal of
the American Medical Association, 281 , 2186.
Lisak, D. (1994). The
psychological impact of sexual abuse: Content analysis of interviews with male survivors [warning, 2 megabyte PDF]. Journal of Traumatic
Stress, 7, 525-548.
ABSTRACT: Autobiographical interviews with 26 adult male survivors
of childhood sexual abuse were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and content analyzed to identify common psychological themes.
Approximately equal numbers of men were abused by male and female perpetrators, almost half came from disrupted or violent
homes and a majority had a history of substance abuse. Fifteen psychological themes were identified: Anger, Betrayal, Fear,
Homosexuality Issues, Helplessness, Isolation and Alienation, Legitimacy, Loss, Masculinity Issues, Negative Childhood Peer
Relations, Negative Schemas about People, Negative Schemas about the Self, Problems with Sexuality, Self Blame/Guilt and Shame/Humiliation.
The themes are discussed and illustrated with examples drawn from the transcripts
Lisak, D., & Luster, L. (1994). Educational, occupational, and relationship
histories of men who were sexually and/or physically abused as children. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7 , 507-23.
ABSTRACT: Ninety men (mean age 26) at an urban Northeastern university
were administered a self-report assessment of their early sexual and physical abuse experiences, and their educational, occupational,
relationship, and substance abuse histories. Subjects were classified as sexually abused according to criteria used by Wyatt
(1985) and Finkelhor (1979). Sixteen men (17.8%) experienced sexual abuse alone, 22 men (24.4%) physical abuse alone, 15 men
(16.7%) both sexual and physical abuse, and 37 men (41.1%) were classified as nonabused. Of the 31 men who reported sexual
abuse, 24 (77.4%) were contact, the rest noncontact. Sexually abused men reported significantly greater difficulties than
nonabused men at all levels of education: grade school, high school and college. They also reported more negative job experiences
and more negative experiences in relationships. Physically abused men showed a similar but less pervasive pattern of difficulties.
Substance abuse was significantly more prevalent among both sexually and physically abused men than among nonabused subjects.
Watkins, B. & Bentovim, A. (1992). The sexual abuse of male
children and adolescents: A review of current research. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 33, 197-248.
ABSTRACT: A current 'best guess' suggests contact abuse in the
range of 2-5% in the male population. As each study controls for its own definition of abuse, the narrowing in the ratio of
boys to girls abused can be accepted as quite reliable, and additional evidence of a delayed recognition effect. Retrospective
community evidence shows 1 boy is abused for every 2-4 girls abused. In contrast, the highest clinical ratios are for 1 boy
to every 4 girls. Those who work with runaways, male child prostitutes, or child and adolescent psychiatric inpatient units
appear particularly likely to encounter abused boys.
Secondly, a variety of explanations have been advanced to explain
the apparent under-reporting or under-detection of the sexual abuse of boys. Prominent among them have been the boy's fears
of disbelief and of being labeled homosexual. Police patterns of reporting extra-familial abuse may mask its extent from protection
or health agencies, which is important because extra-familial abuse does appear to be more common in boys, especially older
boys, than girls. Although there has been some diminution of the cultural denial that girls can be abused, a parallel decrease
of denial regarding boys has lagged behind. This is particularly true of father-son and of the much less common mother-son
abuse. It is plausible that certain 'alertors' are more relevant for boys. The recent development of aggressive behaviour,
homophobic anxiety, co-abuse of a sibling and abusing behaviour in particular deserve consideration.
Young, R. E., Bergandi, T. A., & Titus, T. G. (1994). Comparison
of the effects of sexual abuse on male and female latency-aged children. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 9 , 291-306 .
ABSTRACT: The psychological impact of childhood sexual abuse on
latency-aged children was investigated by the combined use of self-report instruments and parent/caretaker reports. In the
study, 20 males and 20 females who were in treatment at clinics in two large Southeastern cities comprised the abused groups,
and a matched number of children from the same areas comprised a control group. The hypothesis that sexually abused children
differ from nonabused peers was supported by the results. Abused children identified themselves as having more problems in
peer interactions and saw themselves as more depressed than the nonabused children. Caretakers reported that the abused children
had more problems with aggression, social interactions, and being overly sensitive to peers' negative statements; lacked appropriate
social skills; and demonstrated more sexual acting-out behaviors. A second hypothesis, that within the abused children's group
there would be significant differences between males and females, was not supported by the results. The direction of the group
means on all the dependent variables for the abused male and female groups was, however, in the expected direction. Possible
explanations for these results as well as future research needs are discussed.