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Talking about boyhood sexual abuse and its aftermath for men can be difficult, even painful. By age 16, as many as one in six boys in America has had unwanted sex with an adult or older child.Recent coverage about the sexual abuse of boys has emphasized preventing abuse, making sure sexual predators are sequestered from youthful prey, and "moving on." For example, the crises of a church that harbored predators have gotten far more air time than the harm done to the boys molested by priests.It's disturbing to think about what it means to a boy when he's sexually abused by someone he trusts.
Putting the experience into words is freeing for many men, whether they tell a loved one, a professional, a confidant, or simply write in a journal. Knowledgeable professionals can help, as can healing retreats, some 12-Step programs, and men's groups focused on victimization and masculinity. Gartner was a founder and is a Past President of Male Survivor: the National Organization against Male Sexual Victimization (malesurvivor.org).
The media has been of little help deepening the conversation about male sexual victimization.
Millions of men, abused as children, continue to live with the debilitating effects of shattered trust.
Feeling guilty about any sexual pleasure he felt during his molestation, he may become ambivalent about all sexual pleasure.
Also, masculine gender expectations teach boys they can't be victims.