Men's Acknowledgment of Their Sexual Victimization Experiences

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Abstract

Sexual victimization of boys and men is understudied despite its alarming prevalence and potentially detrimental outcomes. Research suggests that the majority of men who have experienced something that would qualify as child sexual abuse (CSA) or adult rape based on research definitions do not label their experiences as sexual abuse or rape. This study sought to examine men's labeling of their own victimization by examining acknowledgment of CSA and adult rape in a convenience sample of 323 men who completed an online survey. In this sample, 49% of CSA victims and 24% of rape victims used the labels of sexual abuse and rape, respectively. Correlates of CSA acknowledgment included the perpetrator's use of physical force during the incident. Correlates of rape acknowledgment included perpetrator's use of force and a male rather than a female perpetrator. Acknowledged CSA victims reported more distress and higher rates of adult sexual revictimization compared with unacknowledged CSA victims. Unacknowledged rape victims, but not acknowledged rape victims, reported higher rates of distress compared to non-victims. Rape myths and rigid definitions of masculinity are discussed as possible factors contributing to the high rates of unacknowledged sexual victimization in this sample.

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