Male Victims of Sex Abuse Get National Apology

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will make a National Apology to survivors and victims of sex abuse in institutions, the majority of them men. The Apology follows a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse and applies to all victims and survivors, their families and supporters and acknowledges that more needs to be done to prevent and protect children from sexual abuse in institutions.

As a forum focused on men and boys’ health, this article highlights male victims and survivors of sexual abuse, but this does not mean that we seek to minimize the experience of female victims and survivors in anyway.

There are around 1 million male survivors of sexual assault in Australia. The Royal Commission examined the experiences of children who were sexually abused in institutional care settings.

In total, nearly 7,000 survivors of sexual abuse gave evidence to the royal commission and 2 out of 3 of them were male.

Disclosing sexual abuse and getting help can be difficult for all victims and men and boys are less likely to get support than women and girls.

With this in mind, the Australian Men’s Health Forum (AMHF) has given its support to a call from specialist organisations like SAMSN and Living Well, for the Government to set up and resource a National Centre of Excellence to reduce stigma, promote help-seeking and support good practice.

Some Facts About Male Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse

  • Between 1 in 6 and 1 in 10 males are abused before the age of 16.
  • For male victims, around 4 out of 5 abusers are male, 1 in 5 are female.
  • 3 out of 4 victims of abuse in religious institutions are male
  • On average, it takes men 10 years longer to disclose childhood sexual abuse than women
  • Common effects include mental and physical health issues; relationship issues; sexual difficulties; substance abuse; addiction and risk-taking
  • The way we respond to men and boys who disclose can help or hinder recovery
  • Being a victim or survivor of sexual abuse increases men’s risk of suicide

Source: Males Sexually Abused in Childhood: A Crime No-One Wanted to Talk About 

According the experts working with male victims and survivor; men and boys need male-centred support services that respond to their preferences and needs. We need to meet men where they are, not where we think they should be.

As Dr Gary Foster of the specialist service Living Well has said: “We can’t expect victims of sexual violence to always be talking nicely. They’re angry about what happened to them, and the fell deep shame and embarrassment about what’s happened to them. So, in the end it’s a challenge for all of us, to understand and create spaces for that.”

It’s also important to note that with the right support, it is possible for male survivors to experience “post traumatic growth” that can lead to a greater appreciation and valuing of life, closer, more intimate relationships, increased personal resilience and sense of strength, re-evaluation of life priorities and possibilities.

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