Myths and stereotypes regarding males and sexual abuse.

Male Survivor Aotearoa

Round Two – Working with Men, by Toah Nest

Societal beliefs about males being self-reliant and dominant, relatively immune to expressions of vulnerability or helplessness are commonly understood and believed. For many survivors seeking help is almost unimaginable, almost a worse outcome than nondisclosure (Barnett et al, 2011; Romano & De Luca, 2001). Situations where the abuser is a women considerably worsens the contradiction between societal expectations, self-image and the experience of abuse (Davies, 2002). While the victim’s self-blame for at least in part somehow contributing to the abuse is no doubt true of both male and female victims. However Davies (2002) suggests that men, because of their internalised beliefs surrounding masculinity are at greater risk of believing they may have provoked the abuse in some way.

The prevailing paradigm within services and society where violence, particularly sexual violence, is seen as an abuse of power. For example the statement, ‘We believe that sexual violence is an abuse of power. It occurs primarily due to the way society defines the roles of women and men and supports a patriarchal system that views others as property, while also rewarding those who exercise power and control over others with no regard for human rights or dignity’ (TOAH-NNEST TC Inc, 2009, 4.1.6). Given that
crimes such as rape and sexual abuse are primarily associated with women, this invariably isolates male victims of sexual abuse. This isolation can lead to the belief that abuse has only happened to them (Nicholls, 2014). This isolation is further deepened with male victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by a female. This being an absolute contradiction to the prevailing ideology outline above.

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