Has the recent media attention surrounding the hazing and class action lawsuits initiated by pro-hockey players or the information about human trafficking rings got you questioning experiences in your own past? Perhaps learning that certain hazing activities are considered sexual abuse, has you wondering if things that happened to you in your past would also be considered abuse.
If you are a male who is questioning whether or not something you experienced in your past was sexual abuse, ask yourself the following questions:
- When you were a child, were you touched by someone two or more years older than you? Did they seem to know what they were doing, but you didn’t? Were you coerced or forced to touch them?
- When you were a child, did someone expose you to sexually explicit material then invite you to try engaging in the sexual acts you were looking at?
- Did an older friend, cousin, sibling or friend of the family offer to teach you how to masturbate?
- Were you under duress, or was the person who coerced you into sexual activity in a position of authority over you?
- Were you awake when the initial contact took place? (If you answer no – you were not consenting to be touched. You must be awake to consent.)
- Were you under the age of 18 and the partner several years older?
Male sexual abuse is often confused as a consensual or “coming of age experience.” This is especially true in acquaintance rape. Those who offend against boys work hard and, in fact, intend to leave their victims confused. They often use sophisticated grooming tactics (like taking an interest in what interests them and paying special attention to a child’s needs) to coerce them into trusting them to be alone with them and eventually engaging in sexual activity.
Boys and men who do not feel safe asking for help often cope with sexual abuse through isolating themselves, becoming bullies, or through engaging in hyper-masculinity, promiscuity, work-a-holism and/or substance abuse.
Although using addictive substances to cope may seem to work in the short term, the use of addictive using substances can have disastrous effects on male victims and their families in the long-term.
If you met the criteria of someone who was abused, you may also be wondering if you need help. Here are a few more questions to help you make that decision:
- Do you avoid deep conversations or getting close people because you are afraid of where the conversation might go?
- Do you find yourself unable to engage in intimate relationships?
- Are you isolating or using substances excessively or as a means to numb out or feel alive?
- Are you easily irritated, or do you experience excessive anger, anxiety, or depression?
- Do you feel like talking about your abuse would make you cry?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, find a trained trauma therapist. Help is available, and you could be living a much richer quality of life.
If you would like to read more about grooming or the effects of sexual abuse on males, please read my book: Men Too: Unspoken Truths About Sexual Abuse.