The sexual abuse of younger boys by adult women is a national epidemic in the United States. Every year, between 19% to 31% of male college students report some form of non-consensual sexual contact, and researchers pin the supermajority of these acts on women.
Cindy Struckman-Johnson, a psychology professor at the University of South Dakota, has studied male victims of sexual assault since 1985. Studies showing widespread sexual coercion and assault by women against men, on college campuses and elsewhere, have trickled in consistently for decades, but they haven’t entered the public discussion of sexual violence.
The website 1in6, which is dedicated to helping male survivors of sexual abuse, outlines six major points of male sexual abuse that goes sadly unknown by the public.
Firstly, “boys and men can be sexually used or abused, and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are.” Sexual abuse is sexual abuse. If a boy or man says “no” during the act of sexual intercourse, then the partner has an obligation to respond respectfully by ending all sexual advances. Even though the media overemphasizes male sexuality beyond its natural order, women do not have a free pass to sleep with any man they please.
Secondly, “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.”
There is a fine line between seduction and sexual manipulation, and this line is drawn at the degree consensus, of which there are two: yes, or no. Many are quick to dismiss the sexual exploitation of school-age children by their educators on the basis that the boy must enjoy the sexual experience. However, sexual exchanges between a student and teacher are often initiated on behalf of the latter, and when the student is underage, seduction is tantamount to manipulative exploitation due to the lack of a minor’s ability to consent.
Thirdly, “sexual abuse harms boys and girls in ways that are similar and different, but equally harmful.” According to 1in6, “one large study, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, found that the sexual abuse of boys was more likely to involve penetration of some kind, which is associated with greater psychological harm.” Depression, feelings of worthlessness, and the sense of sexual brokenness are all derived from male sexual abuse at a young age.
Fourthly, “boys can be sexually abused by both straight and gay men and women. Sexual abuse is the result of abusive behavior that takes advantage of a child’s vulnerability and is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the abusive person.”
Despite the fact that an overwhelmingly disproportionate amount of male sexual abuse is committed by homosexual men (comprising 1.6% of the national population but committing at least 25% of pedophilia-related crimes), there is an abundance of heterosexual abusers as well. Males can be harassed, abused, and exploited by both straight and gay men, women, and transsexuals. Sexual abuse is not defined by one’s sexual orientation, but rather by taking advantage of a child’s vulnerability.
Fifthly, “… a boy’s sexual orientation is neither the cause nor the result of sexual abuse. By focusing on the abusive nature of sexual abuse rather than the sexual aspects of the interaction, it becomes easier to understand that sexual abuse has nothing to do with a boy’s sexual orientation.”
Sexual orientation develops independently from one’s relational experience or past abusive memories. Although psychological trauma may cause a child to believe certain things about themselves that may or not be true, one’s sexual orientation is relatively unaffected by sexual abuse as children.
Sixthly, “Girls and women can sexually abuse boys. The boys are not ‘lucky,’ but exploited and harmed.” Once again, many humorously dismiss the seriousness of male sexual abuse on the basis that they must be lucky or enjoy the abuse. Especially with a female perpetrator, one can only be reminded of that South Park episode, with the policeman investigating such a case simply muttering, “Nice.”
Recent studies have clearly shown that the rates of nonconsensual sexual contact are basically equalised as of 2010. Among male victims of penetration without permission, 68.8% reported female perpetrators, and 79.2% of those who had been “made to penetrate” without permission also reported female perpetrators. Rape, therefore, is agender. The rapist in the 21st century is not a straight white male who stalks college campuses for young women; rather, they are men and women with a deplorable condition seeking to assault isolated and weak individuals, whether they be male or female.
Seventhly, “Most boys who are sexually abused will not go on to sexually abuse others.” This myth above all is the most damaging to the victimized male psyche, as it can generate harmful disposition in victims’ orientation towards themselves. Unfortunately, boys and men who come forward with their stories of sexual abuse are considered more likely to abuse others in the future, rather than children or victims in need of support.
In highlight of the above six months, the Twitter hashtag #MyBalls has emerged. To garner international support for male victims of child abuse, the Twitter hashtag has been tweeted more than one hundred times in the past twenty-four hours.
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