We are living through something of a witch-hunt
these days. Men are being accused of
sexual abuse, often going back decades, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether
there is evidence or not to support it.
The recent shoddy journalism at the BBC does victims of sexual abuse no
favours at all. It simply reestablishes
the myth that victims should not be believed.
What is helpful about the current interest
in sexual abuse, however, is that the historic abuse of boys is increasingly
being recognized and documented. For
generations the mainstream charities supporting victims of sexual abuse refused
to take on male cases as a political position.
Victims of male sexual abuse were not only disbelieved by the state, but
were silenced by the charities that claimed to support survivors.
If male sexual abuse survivors found the
public space unhelpful, the internal psychological space was often worse. Boys who are sexually abused sometimes get an
erection. Boys who are sexually abused sometimes
collude with the abuse as a way of coping with it. Boys who are sexually abused are sometimes
also genuinely sexually curious about the activities of the abuser? What does this mean?
For boys who are sexually abused they are sometimes deeply tormented about their own culpability in their own abuse. As a consequence they are often tormented
about what this means about their sexuality, and their masculinity. The result:
many boys simply shut down the trauma, burry it, and suffer in silence
through adult life: they experience shame, guilt and flashbacks … in silence. Many men don’t even tell their wives of their
My position is clear. Adults should not interfere in the developing
sexuality of children. If they do, they
are culpable of a criminal offence and should be punished by the law. The fact that abusers are skilled at
manipulating young boys minds means that the abuse is not just physical, but it
psychological, and often enduring.
If you were abused as a child and are still
tormented by what this means, you are entitled to sympathetic support. I understand that you may never wish to pursue
your abuser through the courts, but you may still need to talk through your
experience, be believed, honestly confront your own perceived culpability, and
put this demon to bed.
Fortunately dedicated male survivor
organisations are starting to appear.
Try survivorsuk.org who offer a confidential helpline and some great
Dr Phil Tyson is a Men's Psychotherapist based in Manchester in the UK. He offers: