Laura Russell, Ph.D., Archive  

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can men recover from sexual abuse trauma?


Q. Can men recover from sexual abuse trauma?

A. Absolutely! Men can recover from sexual abuse trauma as thoroughly as women. In my clinical practice, I have seen some differences in the details. Here are a few of them: Boys donít always know they have been sexually abused. 

    Men donít always have easy access to their feelings. 
    Men have a harder time admitting they have been sexually abused.

Boys donít always know they have been sexually abused. Based upon sex role stereotyping, young boys who have been molested by older women are often very confused about what happened. On the one hand, they feel flattered and macho about this. At the same time, their instincts and emotions know that something was not quite right about what happened. As a male, realizing what was done to you often takes longer than it does for women. 

De-briefing from any trauma requires that you talk about what happened. And talk about it and talk about it until you are done talking about it. You look at the different ways your traumatic event(s) has meaning in your life and how it relates to your beliefs, thought patterns, goals, hopes, wishes, dreams and plans. You do not have to become someone you are not (i.e., learn to process feelings like a woman does in our society) in order to recover from PTSD. 

In fact, research has shown that people who write about their traumas recover in a deeper way than people who just talk about them. There are physical changes in the immune system after a trauma. These are changes that are often seen in people who soon become physically ill. These blood values change back faster in people who write about their traumas. † 

Boys have a harder time admitting they have been abused. This is again related to sex role stereotyping. Women are scripted in our society to be more victim like. Men are scripted to be macho and physically in charge of their environment. I do not think this is a good thingÖit just is a reality. 

In the case of male sexual abuse, admitting to having been abused is incongruent with male identity. This simply becomes something to work through in therapy. 










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