Is sexual abuse gender specific?

The wonderful IHM has again written about a topic I have been thinking a lot about in the last few years. This is her take on male sexual abuse. And while I was going through the comments, I found another gem where a male adult talks about what happened to him.

Over the years, the stories I have heard about male sexual abuse have amazed me for their lack of clarity and ease with which those who have been ‘lucky’ or ‘male enough’ to escape it deride those who could not. There are also the myths. One of them is that its the sexually frustrated auntie who might have done it. The other bigger one is that it is someone who is part of the LGBT community who did it. Well truth is, more often than not, it is just someone who is a sexual bully who does it to the boy who probably didnt even know such a thing existed. Most easy victims are the ones who havent yet explored their sexuality arent they? Also it ensures that the victim wont talk about it out of fear. A sexual predator is a sexual predator, period, regardless of his/her orientation.

The problem with the male victim is he cant say it happened to him, not that it is easier for the girl to say, but just that society has a mentality that such things dont happen to men. If it was part of the hostel ragging, then admitting to it is facing ridicule from the rest of the gang. And oh, the ‘man enough’ crowd would always wonder why you couldnt fight your way out of it. The sad part is that the male victim might get a similar reaction even from close family. It is similar to how the ‘girl must have invited it’, in case of a guy, it is ‘why didn’t he fight it’. Rarely do victims of either gender find someone compassionate and understanding enough to help them soothe the pain.

The ‘man enough’ or ‘woman enough’ crowd has another allegation too. After the victim talks, suddenly they start viewing him differently, looking for signs of homosexuality. This I have found particularly revolting. I have heard quite a few comments about ‘you know that incident has altered him’, ‘you see how he is more feminine’ etc etc. For God’s sake, sexual orientation is not infectious. The trouble is it is very difficult for men and some women to digest that a man can do this to another man. As I read somewhere this is because you cant blame the boy for inviting it. Suddenly you stare at the stark reality that a sexual abuser is just a vicious bully, that it is not about sex but about domination. That is a harder pill to swallow, the basic evil of anyone’s mind. So we choose the easy way out as always, blame the victim. We wonder why he couldnt fight, we wonder if he has turned gay.

Truth is we dont want him saying all these things, we dont want him exposing the evil and our silence towards it, so we have to make it about the victim. Truth is that some of you know it could have been you, but dont want that reminder and so shun him. Truth also probably is that you might have your own reasons to side with the perpetrator. And truth also is that you know that the victim is so scarred already, ashamed of what happened to him already, that he wont challenge your gossip. Makes you feel powerful doesnt it? Wonder who really is ‘man enough’ there.

P.S. Yes, it is an angry post and I dont care what prejudice you want to form about me for saying this.


  1. The male victim is as scarred as any other. He refuses to speak,let alone even think about it. He blanks out the very stark reality and lives in a world of dreams where he is feeling protected. He looks around for comfort and avoids any type of limelight. I can say from my own knowledge since I personally have handled such instances and cases. The world looks at only women as victim since it has social stigma attached to it but males as victims are behind an iron curtain.The scenes in hostels, jails and other such places are a very common places for such acts.Hope the world understands them too.

  2. Thank you, Kajal, firstly for taking off from the excellent post by Indian Home Maker (IHM) and, secondly, for expressing your own frank views — without caring about “what prejudice you want to form about me for saying this”.

    The struggle against bullies — (male, female or other) who use “sex” to dominate others — is going to be a long drawn out movement.

    Thank you for speaking out openly about these issues.

    Peace and love,
    – Joe.

  3. Reminds me of “To Kill a Mockingbird” where a woman tries to sexually force herself on a guy. Of course, there are massive racial overtones in the situation which makes it even worse. Not only was he a man, big and huge, but he was also black!

  4. I'm going to dismiss the niceties and go right ahead and tell you Kajal that this post has hit home for me.
    Few days ago there was an episode on the Oprah Winfrey Show about men who were sexually abused as kids. Yes, the same things were talked about – men are naturally bred to be unwilling to share this pain or speak about it. And yes, most of them had been abused by their fathers (sometimes even biological fathers).
    The poignant thing about that episode was when one man said, “It's funny how the abused is somehow always blamed for what happened to him/her”.
    Oprah then went ahead and asked one of the 200 participant men who had come forward that day, “How can you trust your boys with your mother? How can you trust her when she did not do right by you then?”
    And ultimately, she said this about forgiveness, “Forgiveness is accepting that the past could not have been any different than the way it actually turned out to be.”
    I feel repulsed, angry and scared every time I hear the words “rape” or “abuse”. However I read posts like this and watch shows like Oprah because they subconsciously affirm my recovery.
    Thank you for what you've written.

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