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Male Sexual Victimization Statistics
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Myths and Facts (Click for more info)
- Boys and men can be sexually used or abused, and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are.
- If a boy liked the attention he was getting, or got sexually aroused during abuse, or even sometimes
wanted the attention or sexual contact, this does not mean he wanted or liked being manipulated or
abused, or that any part of what happened, in any way, was his responsibility or fault.
- Sexual abuse harms boys and girls in ways that are similar and different, but equally harmful.
- The sexual abuse of boys has nothing to do with an abuser’s sexual orientation.
- A boy abused by a male is not necessarily gay, nor was he abused because he’s gay, nor can the abuse make him gay.
- Girls and women can sexually abuse boys. The boys are not “lucky,” but exploited and harmed.
- Most boys who are sexually abused will not go on to sexually abuse others."
Information from www.1in6.org
Researchers have found that 1 in 6 men have experienced unwanted or abusive sexual experiences before age 16.
And this is probably a low estimate, since it doesn’t include non-contact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects.
What the best research tells us:
• A 2005 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, on San Diego Kaiser Permanente HMO members, reported that 16% of males were sexually abused by the age of 18.1
• A 2003 national study of U.S. adults reported that 14.2% of men were sexually abused before the age of 18.2
• A 1998 study reviewing research on male childhood sexual abuse concluded that the problems is
“common, under-reported, under-recognized, and under-treated.” 3
• A 1996 study of male university students in the Boston area reported that 18% of men were sexually
abused before the age of 16.4
• A 1990 national study of U.S. adults reported that 16% of men were sexually abused before the age of 18. 5
Why these statistics are probably underestimates:
• Males who have such experiences are less likely to disclose them than are females.6
• Only 16% of men with documented histories of sexual abuse (by social service agencies, which means
they were very serious) considered themselves to have been sexually abused.7
Men who have had such experiences are at much greater risk for serious mental health
problems than men who have not been abused, including:
• Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.1, 2, 8
• Alcoholism and drug abuse.1, 9
• Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.1, 9
• Problems in intimate relationships.1, 10
• Underachievement at school and at work.1, 10
Think about it, and about educating others
In summary, the 1 in 6 statistic is supported by solid scientific research, including a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and is likely an underestimate of the actual prevalence. Furthermore, this widespread problem contributes to many adult men’s mental health, personal and work difficulties.
1. Dube, S.R., Anda, R.F., Whitfield, C.L., et al. (2005). Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 430-438.
2. Briere, J. & Elliot, D.M. (2003). Prevalence and psychological sequelae of self-reported childhood physical and sexual abuse in a general population sample of men and women. Child Abuse & Neglect,
3. Holmes, W.C., & Slap, G.B. (1998). Sexual abuse of boys: Definition, prevalence, correlates, sequelae, and management. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 280, 1855-1862.
4. Lisak, D., Hopper, J. & Song, P. (1996). Factors in the cycle of violence: Gender rigidity and emotional constriction. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9, 721-743.
5. Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I. A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 14, 19-28.
6. Holmes, G.R., Oﬀen, L., & Waller, G. (1997). See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil: Why do relatively few male victims of childhood sexual abuse receive help for abuse-related issues in adulthood?
Clinical Psychology Review, 17, 69-88.
7. Widom, C.S. & Morris, S. (1997). Accuracy of adult recollections of childhood victimization part 2. Childhood sexual abuse. Psychological Assessment, 9, 34-46.
8. Widom (1999). Posttraumatic stress disorder in abused and neglected children grown up. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 1223-1229.
9. Felitti, V.J., Anda, R.F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D.F., Spitz, A.M., et al. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14, 245-258.
10. 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, 507-523.
* There are many more studies than these. Our goal here is to summarize some key research published by
respected scientists, in reputable journals, after the work was reviewed and approved by scientific peers.
Kennebec & Somerset Counties in Maine
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse... there is someone who will listen.
Call the Maine Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Line
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