Of course, the issue of the sexual abuse of boys is bigger than the Boy Scouts, but we often don’t hear about it. Indeed, because the number of girls and women who face sexual abuse is much greater than that of boys and men (23 per cent of women compared to 9 per cent of men), too often boys and men are overlooked in conversations and efforts to combat sexual abuse.
Furthermore, their abuse experience may be construed as consensual or desired. While victims of abuse of all genders may be disbelieved or blamed, boys often aren’t even thought of as potential victims. This must change.
Boys are vulnerable due to their age, but there are other sub-groups that are even more likely to report experiencing sexual assault – we must also pay them special attention. In a survey I co-authored in April with over 2,200 respondents, persons 18 and older were asked about their lifetime experiences of abuse, including as children.
Men with disabilities were more than four times as likely as men without disabilities to report they had experienced sexual assault (25 per cent versus 6 per cent).
More than 1 in 5 gay or bisexual men (21 per cent) said they experienced sexual assault, compared with 9 per cent of straight men.
While 7 per cent of white men reported sexual assault, 20 per cent of men of mixed race or other race, 13 per cent of black men and 11 per cent of Hispanic men said they had faced sexual assault.
One in four men living below the poverty line said they had experienced sexual assault, the highest of any household income bracket.
Sexual assault is an abuse of power, so it makes sense that those who are more vulnerable in our society due to racism, homophobia, ableism and poverty (or gender, since rates of assault are high for women of all backgrounds) would be more likely to face sexual assault.