Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse : Published November 2006 All Rights Reserved

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Survivors: Men on sexual life as children

By Jeffrey Allen Miller

Some men admit a rough childhood can brawn-up character and some men attribute their life's success to Christian  family values that helped them 'overcome' challenges as young adults. There remains but one taboo subject though where male braggadocio decries the core of society's indulgence on family values: Recovery from male childhood sexual abuse.

The United States government and academic research estimate roughly 17 percent of males fall to sexual predators  as boys. 
Men on sexual life as children

For more information visit these links:

Crime Victims Treatment Center (New York City)
William Alanson White Institute (New York City)
Healing Alliance
Childhelp USA
Teen Victim Project
SNAP (Victims of priests)
Awareness Center (Jewish Coalition  Against Sexual  Abuse)
Dr. Jim Hopper (Noted researcher)

Featured participants:

Merle James Yost LMFC (Therapist)
Rommell Washington MSW, LCSW (Support group facilitator)
Dr. Richard Gartner (Psychologist, author)

Dr. Gartner Book Titles on Amazon:

  • Memories of Sexual Betrayal
  • Betrayed as Boys
  • Beyond Betrayal
John Oarc (Rape survivor, author)

Oarc's Book Title on Amazon
  • What Ever It takes God: The most difficult things for men to survive

TO COMMENT on this story e-mail
 publisher Jeffrey Allen Miller at  jeffrey(at sign)thinkandask(dot)com

Statistics on the human condition though fail on two levels notes authors David Murray, Joel Schwartz, and S. Robert Lichter. In particular,  journalists can put a spin on research results to make data conform to preexisting beliefs and innocently dumb-down complex issues resulting in editorial misinterpretation.

Government agencies too can politicize statistics to their advantage the co-authors wrote in their 2001 book titled:  It Ain't Necessarily So.

How sexual abuse statistics impacted 48 men in the United States screened for this article is certain: The numbers held no value. Their data had not been captured in an official poll on sexual abuse, and only four had reported sexual abuse to authorities as children (or later as adults.) 

Three men whose stories unfold ahead did not seek professional help until, what seemed to them, un-related events to childhood sexual assault suddenly overwhelmed their daily adult lives. Those events included fear of and failed relationships, addictions, and contracting HIV. 

During the two month investigation in writing this story three news stories broke of  sexual indescretions by men, which resulted in their fall from political and religious grace, and led to murder: Congressman Mark Foley,  Reverend Ted Arthur Haggard, and
Charles Carl Roberts IV of Pennsylvania. While these men were not discussed with the male victims of sexual abuse interviewed here, the mental health professionals interviewed did address the Foley and Roberts cases as those charges related specifically to childhood sexual abuse, but most comments were off the record due to the lack of public information. Haggard's story unfolded as this story was going to press.

Mental health specialist Merle James Yost of Oakland, CA,  dedicates his practice to two issues for men, one of which is  male childhood sexual abuse recovery. He said it is common for boys  to withhold grief and bury emotions, because society doesn't recognize the need for boys to learn the coping tools taught to girls.

Yost, along with New York City-based social worker Rommell Washington of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital victims center, and Dr. Richard Gartner (a noted specialist on male sexual abuse,) discuss much later in this article what male survivors face during recovery, what men should look for in  mental health assistance, the warning signs of sexual abuse for parents of boys, and the myths about the sexual abuse of boys.

When sexual abuse is involved in a boy's life Yost  concluded the  outcome of unresolved victimization can turn that young man or adult into an explosive device  -- and the fire either fans out across  society or burns out-of-control from within.

In the following story -- readers will be given an inside track from three men who burned from within.

A fourth man stated that he wanted sexual intercourse as a boy -- and he claims boys he meets on Craigslist in New York hold equal desire for sexual exploration.


The following contains explicit details on the sexual abuse of boys, and the sexual activity of men.  Readers may go directly to the section on professional advice and mental health support.

Sleepy Time,  Piano Lessons & Flag Football

John Oarc loved flag football when he was 9 years old and was eager to make new friends  at the beginning of his fourth grade school year. His recently divorced mother had relocated them before school began that year  so John was thrilled to meet a new  buddy who also enjoyed the game.  John was invited  for a sleep over at the boy's house. When it came time for lights-out, John and his friend were invited to sleep in the father's bed.

"We went to bed that night and everything was fine until his father began fondling my penis," said John, who is now 40 years old and lives in Louisiana.

The father held John closer to him in bed and worked John's hand around the man's penis. "I can't recall how long this went on, but the next thing I remember is, being pulled down in the bed and having his penis placed in my mouth."

The father ejaculated into John's mouth and then instructed him to use the bathroom sink and "spit it out."

flag footballBefore  Jay turned  11 years old  his  normal nighttime routine had him tucked away in bed each night -- until  his uncle began a ritual, which lasted more than three years. Jay, now 41, said at first his uncle  exposed himself and then "things progressed...where he used to make me touch his erect penis.

"Eventually he started to turn me on my belly and forcefully penetrated me." Jay  had intercourse with his uncle while members of the household slept he recalled from Queens, NY. Sometimes the uncle anally penetrated Jay repeatedly during a given night. 

Brad is a 32-year-old gay man living in Jersey City, NJ. He said that when he was 12 years old his parents hired a piano teacher who was 32 years old at the time. Brad concluded that by having no friends in grade school, and being an only child in a two-parent career household, that he was in need of emotional attention.  His mother was working her way up the ranks of a Manhattan law firm, and his father was an airline pilot who was often based out of state.

The piano teacher fit neatly into the upper-class white Jewish family, but Brad already knew that his physical attraction to boys made him  different than  others in his Bronxville, NY, neighborhood. "I think I fell in love with [the teacher] as much as one can at that age. He  became my dad by proxy and best friend rolled into one," Brad said.

For the first few  weekly piano lessons in his family's  living room Brad said he recalled nothing unusual. "I just remember that  I was practicing and we were sitting at the piano  together and he put his hand on my leg." Before the lesson finished that day the piano teacher kissed Brad.

Early Arrival to Manhood

"I didn't know what to make of it," Brad said about sexual intercourse. "It made me feel good, but nervous. I was like flushed and hot inside.  I didn't want either of my parents to walk in and suddenly  see this was going on," he said.

The piano teacher was married and had two girls, one of whom was close with Brad. "I never told her what her  dad and I did together." According to Brad, he and the teacher "probably had sex every week, sometimes more" if the two went someplace in the piano teacher's car. 

Then in the summer of 1988 when Brad was 14 years old, the teacher's  attention came to an abrupt ending. The piano teacher bowed out of Brad's family  life all together, but the teacher took on new students in New York City's  suburban Westchester County.

"I thought I'd done something wrong, or why else would he drop me?" Brad asked. "I was so depressed and lonely, but who could I have told as a boy?" Brad said the teacher would not speak to him either in person or on the telephone. Brad  lost interest in playing the piano and his parents did not search for another instructor.

Len offered  different insight  on sexual intercourse between  boys and men and the after affects of his own encounters.

The 56-year-old resident of Manhattan said, "I knew which theaters I could go to and find an older man to play with."

"...I really just want them to already be sexually active so we can both enjoy and  relax together."

Len from New York City

He recalled during his early teen years that his favorite time was Saturday afternoon, when his widowed father would "hit the bottle" and miss  that Len had slipped away from their Westside Manhattan apartment.

Len would sneak into a Midtown (Manhattan) theater and sit quietly. Eventually men would sit on either side of Len and one or both men would masturbate him. In exchange, Len would perform oral sex on the men.

"Hey, it felt great. I have no issues with that. I wanted sex," Len said.

At the time Jay's
  abuse began, he said his uncle was about 15 years old, and he never told members of his family what had occurred.  "He always convinced me to let him penetrate me --he never outwardly forced me to do anything-- of course, once he started to penetrate me I would feel pain and ask him to stop.

"But he would claim that I had agreed to let him do it," Jay said.

Eventually Jay  started enjoying the penetration and at times looked forward to nightfall.

Reflecting on his childhood -- Jay  described his younger body as thin and lacking  muscle tone. The abuse led him to be withdrawn from the world, but then the desire for intercourse became part of his daily life and he branched out.

"I started to seek out other older boys who would be interested in penetrating me," he said. "Latin and black boys were usually more willing to engage in sex with me so long as they were the ones penetrating me."

John recalls
living in a haze for a few weeks after the molestation. "I figured he would kill me and my family if I told anyone, but I finally broke and told my father."

It was John's mother though who took him to the police station where a female police officer  interviewed the boy. He recalled that the policewoman believed him when he described the taste of semen. "A 9-year-old boy shouldn't know what it tastes like," he said.

In John's case the man was reprimanded by authorities and ordered to attend psychological counseling. He served no jail time.

The molest was not discussed again either by John or his family for 20 years.

The Boys Who Answer Craigslist

According to Len, boys today want sex as much as he did  40 years ago. Len said it is easier to trust boys for pleasure, "because they are curious you know, they don't have the hang-ups other guys have already. They are having fun discovering what turns them on."

In Len's assessment the Internet has made it easy to find willing teenaged participants. In his view and experience the men online seeking sex are either married to women, in gay male relationships, or are very young and looking for experimental adventures.

"These guys  don't have to go anywhere  today (to find sex) they are all online," he said. Boys post ads on craigslist, "or I post one looking for them and 'bam!'  20-minutes he's over here.  He says 'Mom I'm off to the library, see ya later,' and yeah he's learning alright - new tricks," Len laughs. 

There are some limits for Len. "I won't give him liquor or beer, that's against the law." He said he lets the boys smoke if they bring their own devices. He also will "draw the line at [age] 14." Len said most of the boys enjoy  BDSM (a term describing sub-groupings of bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism.)

"I really just want them to already be sexually active so we can both enjoy and  relax together," Len said while lighting up a menthol cigarette. 

The Internet had not yet become a household word while Brad was in high school. He  focused on studies and music as a teenager. He became a self-taught violinist. He earned high grades, and following high school graduation he  majored in music at  Columbia University in Manhattan.

"I started making friends, gay friends, so, it was probably in my sophomore year I told my mom and dad that I was gay and they were okay with it," Brad said. It wasn't until after college, during a July weekend in 1997, that his relationship with them changed.  "My mom and I   are going through these pictures, she smiles and  pulls one out of me and [the piano teacher] at a piano recital  and my face just dropped. I had forgotten what he looked like.  I think my reaction startled her."
Flag Football

"...The bigger (muscular) I got the more I felt others would not suspect I had been molested. 

"I also tried to better myself and get my college degree. I believed that if I appeared to be in control or doing good for myself I could gain respect and just maybe become human once more."

John Oarc from Louisiana

He  told his mother about the sexual relationship with the teacher some 11 years earlier. "Her reaction was disturbing.  She stared at me at first - her face just turned white. And then I thought she was going to get sick. I don't know how to describe it really  - she paced, she just flipped out."

In his recollection of that evening his mother grew enraged to the point of  hysterical sobbing. 

"I'd never even seen her cry before. I thought I'd made this huge mistake by bringing it up," Brad concluded. His father's reaction was subdued. "My dad doesn't react to emotional things right away, I think he left that night to catch a plane. He takes time to sort through his thoughts and then he will act decisively."

The relationship turned distant between Brad and his mother.  Several months passed and  he received word  that  his parents  filed for divorce. "Then I cried for the first time since I was a kid," Brad said. "Now the three of us would be alone and living separate lives."

Older boys in Jay's high school  viewed sexual intercourse with him  as a buddy-to-buddy experience he said. In hindsight Jay thinks the boys considered that he was gay, but that was not the case looking inward for any of the participants he concluded. Before his high school years came to a close Jay stopped searching for  sexual intercourse.

From his senior year in high school up and through  the end of his college years Jay remained celibate.

"My self-destructive behavior started around my late 20s," Jay said.

There is no head count of boys
visiting  Len's apartment, but he estimated that so far in 2006 (through  October) about two-dozen boys have visited him for sex  -- which was fewer than in the past consecutive years he said. A handful of boys arrived, but would then decide not to go through with any sexual activity and leave.

"I don't force anyone, but I'm not quite the (good) looker I used to be," said Len, "There are plenty of gorgeous men they can choose from online."

Boys who answered the past personal  advertisements "really get into [BDSM]  once I show them how to play," he said.

Or --the boys  come already prepared for what he calls a special favor--  a fetish of their own they want to explore. 

Attached to Len's apartment bedroom ceiling, with chains, is a leather strap harness device with  shackles and cuffs. Underneath the device lays a white plush faux animal skin-type rug, and to the side a standard weight bench. 

While Len describes his  sexual activity with the boys as "mainly masturbation," he said the foreplay leading up to ejaculation is what he enjoys most. "We can work out. Pushing those weights can get you really hard -- or just take off your clothes and have a seat in the sling."

Len said he is HIV positive so, "this is all safe stuff here. 

"I don't practice anything unsafe with these guys. No need to pass this on to them."

Some of the more popular activity Len describes teenage boys request to try include being bound at the hands and feet and then tickled; putting on and wearing diapers for Len to change;  and being spanked with a paddle or strap. "Had one who wanted me to [urinate] on him, but that didn't do anything for me personally," Len said, "but he sure got off on it."

Boys, Men on Craigslist.org

While craigslist.org has a posting policy forbidding content, which is abusive to minors or that is pornographic, Think & Ask reviewed the location from where Len posts and applies to personals for sex.

Under Men Seeking Men, the first page stated that by entering the forum the reader is at least 18 years of age, and that the reader may be finding personal messages that have sexual content.

No login is required on craigslist, but before a message appears, the poster must approve the advertisement from their e-mail inbox.

For the New York City board on 8 October 2006 the very first ad read: "Young guy wanted...not older than 22." It was assumed in slang (fifty favors,)  from the ad posted by someone listing there age as 30,  from Williamsburg (Brooklyn,) that the recipient would receive $50.

Another ad from Chelsea (Manhattan) was posted by "2 guys hanging at home" and they were looking for a "boi" younger than 18-years old.

Len said the operative word was usually twink when looking on craigslist.org. Typing the word into craigslist search  resulted in two pages of results -- 47 ads had been posted in the past 48 hours on 8 October with the keyword twink. Craigslist keeps ads for 7 days unless one is flagged by users or removed by the original poster. 

In scanning the results of "twink" for searchers and from posters alike -- titles of ads included spanking,  executive-type looking for a boy, master trainee, slave, wrestler, dad and son play, married guy seeks boy, anal or oral intercourse (in four-letter-word slang,)  and 'getting together Foley style' in reference to former Congressman Mark Foley.  (Foley resigned his post following admission of sending inappropriate instant messages to minors 10 days before this data was collected.)

Different Routes to Recovery

John's rape happened only once, but the event became good gossip for his  small town.  Sports had been an important part of his life as a boy, but while his inner turmoil replayed the molest he "lost the ability to play without the thought of failure. 

"I also lost interest in school," he said. "I became increasingly paranoid about who knew what happened and what they thought of me."

John's fifth and sixth grade class years were a blur.  He developed chronic stomach cramps and constipation.  "I remember trying to make sure everyone liked me so I tried very hard to fit in under any circumstance.  I felt like I had no right to be anywhere and everyone was better than me."   

As he grew into manhood  John sought paths of perfection. If a task could not be completed without error, he would walk away without trying. John skipped going to college and joined the military.

John eventually married a woman with whom he said it would not have become an emotional loss if the marriage failed.

"I saw her as someone who would not challenge my insecurities and it worked; she made me feel sane with all of her problems," he said. However, his wife's love for him boosted his esteem enough to pursue  a college degree.  After he graduated John's sense of achievement faded quickly into his own self-doubt.

"I needed more proof that I could be someone important and powerful," John said.

"Working on building the kingdom to prove my worth...I had a full time job, a couple of part time jobs and two small business ventures in the works.  To cope with the stress of it all I used alcohol and pornography to ease the tension," he said.

John put on a good show by his description. "I had to have everything big.

"Big trucks with four-wheel drive and extra large tires. I worked out religiously to appear as if I could not have been molested. 

"The bigger (muscular) I got the more I felt others would not suspect I had been molested.  I believed that if I appeared to be in control or doing good for myself I could gain respect and, just maybe, become human once more," he said. 

When he was 30 years old,  John discovered his wife was having an extramarital affair.  That led him to believe the inner misery he felt was his wife's doing. "The affair was solid proof that I was right," he said.

Brad sought therapy
to understand why he could not maintain relationships with men after one or two initial dates. He attributed his inability to develop a relationship to his own low  self-esteem.  Brad said that he has not engaged another person in sexual acts of any kind in 18 years -- or since the last time he and the piano teacher met.

Brad had been in and out of therapy for many years. "I went to counseling at Columbia (University,) but it was pretty useless -- the psychologist kept thinking I hadn't accepted myself as being gay." Brad's second therapist was a four-year weekly drama, he concluded, "with a sales pitch showing me how I'd grown up in a dysfunctional family." 

The third therapist --Brad's current--  had asked him during their first session  more than one year ago whether or not he'd engaged in sex as a boy. "She didn't ask, 'Were you molested?' just asked 'Did you have sex when you were a boy?'"

While it made Brad feel uncomfortable to describe childhood sex, he said it was the first time he discussed all the details.

"And it drug on for weeks.

"I didn't want to keep discussing this  with her, but, I don't know, maybe two months had passed I told her I wasn't  coming back."

The psychologist thumbed through her notepaper Brad recalled after announcing his intention.  "She found a page from earlier and tore it out and handed it to me. She said, 'Okay, but take this with you.'"

Her handwritten notepaper circled 'He didn't like it - felt painful - didn't want force - felt like being used.' 

"She is very much this check-list type, always pushing her glasses up her nose, no expression on her face," Brad said -- and the he paused.

"I'm standing there ready to never see this woman again, looking at this paper, and what she wrote, and I just felt like running away.

"I just felt so alone. But I couldn't walk out.  I just started to cry."

"...All I can say is there is no greater guilt for a mother to know she failed to protect her son from one of these predators."

Brad's mother from Westchester County, NY
Since that time, Brad found "the most incredible respect for her. She has helped me come to understand,  I'm this man with feelings and desire. I'm capable of loving and deserve love with another man. But that eventual relationship has to be an equal partnership," he said.

Most importantly in looking back at his childhood, Brad determined what he wanted at age 12 through 14 was a close male friend.

"I wasn't after sex," Brad said.

"How can a  kid want sex when you don't even know what it is?" he asked.

Brad placed  the piano teacher's interest on pre-pubescent boys. His psychologist helped him understand that Brad was not the object of love. "Once my body started maturing - I actually turned him off.

"That was why he only wanted to teach (piano) to beginners," because they were pre-puberty Brad concluded.

Jay started frequenting
porn theaters and  bathhouses where he found solace in exposing his anus to the men he liked in these private clubs. "I would engage in sex with multiple partners with me being penetrated," he said.
Sex sauna bathhouse
He would seek out well built men, those he thought were dominate and aggressive and well endowed. "Since I was thinner and weaker these men were able to have their way with me, protected or not."

Even though Jay said anal penetration was painful for him as an adult, "It was understood that this is what I was looking for when I approached [men.]  I suppose I was replaying my childhood experience."

In his 30s, Jay became physically stronger and more assertive. He started seeking younger males and talked them into allowing him to force entry sex on them he recalled.

"I also engaged in exhibitionism where I would go on the hunt for shy, younger teen guys in public places and  I would expose my genitals to them or masturbate in their presence.

"Their uneasiness and embarrassment often heightened my pleasure," he said.

When Len was asked by Think & Ask  whether or not he considered his sexual activity with boys as sexual abuse, he said,  "God no. You kidding?

"I don't go grab these guys off the street. They come here, we have a good time, he wants it, I want it - it's mutual."

Len said that to his knowledge none of the boys he's engaged in sexual activity were virgins.  "Never asked that outright, just from our usual talk it is very clear to me that I wasn't their first," he said.  When  asked if he thought any of the boys  who visited him may have --at an earlier point in time-- been victims of sexual abuse or rape he said, "I don't know.

Think & Ask queried 48 male respondents for this survey, youngest was 24 oldest 61:


Birth to 5 years
5-10 years
10-15 years
15 years and up


Don't know





WHO WAS THE PERPETRATOR? (Some include multiple perps.)

Parent (blood, step, foster)
Blood relative
Non-blood relative
Neighbor / Family friend
Adult at school district
Adult at religious organization
Other, camp, Boy Scouts etc.


Under 18 years of age


Touching, fondling only
Masturbation only
Anal penetration only
Oral penetration only
Masturbation and penetration
Other, Adult Fetish


Violence  (Yes)
Threats  (Yes)
Neither  (Yes)


I used alcohol in excess
I used illegal drugs
I had mutual sex with other male(s)
I had anonymous sex
I contracted an STD
I thought about suicide
I attempted suicide
I have been arrested


Males only
Females only


Males only
Females only
Males and females
Not sure


No answer

While the survey  was not meant to be scientific, it is worth noting that the majority of  
men answered that they: 

1) Did not want sex as a boy,
2) Knew the perpetrator intimately,
3) Never reported the
4) Abused substances and engaged risky behavior after the molestation/rape,
5) Were attracted to females before
the molest, but as adults became split on their sexual attraction to men.


"This is just suppose to be fun. No harm done.

"Maybe some. We don't talk like that -- would spoil this scene. I wasn't into bondage or fetishes at their age, but I don't question why they are or how they got into it," he said.

John's wife was in need of a "knight in shining armor" to rescue her from an abusive past he said.  It was only after his wife's affair that the two sought marriage counseling and that was when John began to notice a change from within.

"I am not without flaw in the marriage, she could not keep up with my sexual appetite and I substituted pornography for what I felt was her lack of interest." John recalls that both of their pasts came up in sessions, but he said, "One session after another we talked about the molestation. While I secretly detested the topic, my mind concentrated on the affair and her faults more than anything."

For the sake of the couple's daughter John wanted to keep the marriage together, but as tension grew and the two fell deeper into their own worlds of addiction, John filed for divorce. Once the couple split, John was given  weekend visitation with his daughter, but the thought of  having her in his life less than part-time caused John additional stress and pushed him deeper into self-loathing.

With the advice of his therapist John began writing down his inner thoughts. "I began my journals by recording the major thoughts of the day, which led me to be more comfortable writing about my past.  I revisited my childhood and investigated my parent's divorce, the sexual abuse, and expressed my pain and anger," he said.

During his journaling exercises, John began tossing questions around in his mind about his upbringing.  "Why [the parents] didn't help me more after the abuse...why they divorced...why they never talked to me about the molestation...why I was drinking at 13 and having sex at 16..." 

John said up until that point he'd felt responsible for his father paying child support and for the parent's  failed marriage.

He considered himself lucky to find a good therapist who knew how to guide him through recovery. "My therapist had me to go back to the day before the rape and remember who I was -- that 9-year-old boy."

The therapist told John, "'You're still that person, you've just been taken off course and you need to get back on track.'  I began looking at pictures of myself as a 9-year-old boy and it really hit me hard. 

"I realized that I had no idea what was going on and I began shifting the blame for the abuse off of me and on to the predator," John said.

John's work helped him realize that in striving to control all things around him he began to let go of the responsibility he felt for his parent's relationship,  and that he had no control over the actions of the pedophile.

He also found that the man had molested other boys in his small town.   John wrote about the betrayal he felt in his own marriage as a result of the affair.  He tried to imagine the sexual positions his wife and her lover engaged and "tried to imagine what he [the wife's lover] must have been thinking, what he told his friends about his encounter with my wife. How he must have bragged about how he performed in bed with her, all of it was released onto the pages."

The more John wrote and worked with his therapist he began to observe parallels betweens his wife's actions,  his own actions, and how the couple had both evolved into adults as victims of child abuse. 

"In retrospect I see the joy and pain in many of the great writers.  Some of the greatest songs and poems are written in the depths of despair... a person has nothing to lose and they express their true feelings as if there will not be a second chance," John said. 

In his case, John's goals began to change and came down from unrealistic highs as he started to take some chance, he accepted himself and the human flaws each man has -- he forgave and reconciled with his wife.

John and his wife recently celebrated their 20 year anniversary and now have three children.

As the cycle in Jay's life
continued, he felt he'd grown a split personality. "There was this normal guy who went about his life and work etcetera, and the pervert who went to saunas or exposed himself in public," he said.

Then Jay found out that he'd contracted HIV.  It was due to the diagnosis that he grew more stressed and sought psychological counseling.   "I would probably not be in therapy" if it wasn't for the HIV diagnosis he said.

Brad said that he didn't suffer "more than puppy love break-up" with the piano teacher, but the adult response has been an intense  fear of abandonment once a new  dating relationship reached  a certain level of intimacy. Brad said he would break-off any relationship that appeared to get too close to sexual intercourse.

"My psychologist has convinced me that I'm still a virgin," Brad said. "I believe her now.  A boy has no choice against an intelligent and charismatic man who knew I was easy to manipulate."

Before he does engage in a sexual relationship, Brad said, "I want the life-long commitment first."

Now that Brad's father has retired the two have grown close.  "I love my dad, he is my best friend, and he has told me the same. We talk about our (separate)  therapy sessions  and about my work and dating. We travel together. He is very supportive and wants me to be happy. My dad actually tries to find me dates!

"How many gay men can say that about their dad?" Brad laughed.

It took two years after the July '97 weekend before Brad and his mother reconciled. "I really thought she had blamed me that night (when he disclosed the teacher encounters.)  She didn't, but [she] did think I was gay because of the molest," he said.

"She blamed herself and my dad all along for what happened," Brad said. 

During the investigation and writing of this story,  Brad's father was out of the country for an extended trip and was not available for comment. Brad's  mother declined  to be interviewed, but she wrote in e-mail to Think & Ask:

"I'm glad you are writing this story about men and child abuse, but the victims are the ones who need to be heard.

"All I can say is there is no greater guilt for a mother to know she failed to protect her son from one of these predators," Brad's mother wrote.
Sexual abuse book

Even though John was not keen on writing as a boy,  confronting his own childhood sexual assault taught him the skill of journaling and that led the way to publishing his book titled What Ever It Takes, God: The Most Difficult Things For Men To Survive.  He was living in an isolated town during his therapy process, but in writing his story to share with  other men he found great solace and companionship with male survivors across the United States. 

After his book was published, John found other male survivors on malesurivor.org. Online companionship and sharing of triumphs and struggles  helped John realize for the first time that he was not  alone.

"The guys there are very helpful and insightful, they're  like brothers to me."

He said he would have enjoyed being part of a face-to-face male support group, but he found malesurvivor.org furthered his recovery process remotely.

'It is not just boys being boys'

Groups and the Internet

Speaker,  author, mental health trainer,  and psychologist Dr. Richard Gartner is a past president of malesurvivor.org  and he said that male survivor support groups  are  a constructive and useful tool for men -- although such face-to-face groups are not always available.

"Some boys whether rightly or wrongly think their parents will judge them."

"A parent's first reaction say...'Why did you let this happen?' is an inappropriate response for  12-year-old boy and places the responsibility for the molest on the boy."

Dr. Richard Gartner, New York

Mysterious Skin

"...It is emotional. Men are classically good at burying their feelings, and yes, watching [Mysterious Skin] may upset them.

"But so what?

"It may give them the opportunity to seek the help they need."

Merle Yost, LMFC, Oakland, CA
Gartner founded the William Alanson White Institute's sexual abuse program for men in New York City, one of two publicized male support groups in the city. The second support group is co-facilitated by social worker Rommell Washington, MSW - LCSW, at the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Crime Victims Treatment Center (CVTC.)  Washington's group offers free weekly male survivor support groups.  (Check CVTC's website for requirements, limitations,  and schedule.)

Male patients under Gartner's care  range in age from their  late 20s into their 60s and the fear of entering therapy is common with men he said so, physically experiencing a room of survivors at different stages of recovery provides them insight to how the process works and removes the stigma that the survivor is alone. For those without access to a group, Gartner suggested reading books on the process and visiting malesurvivor.org and other survivor websites.

Washington said that the Internet "becomes a channel for healing. Got to use whatever one can," he said, adding that malesurivivor.org is an "excellent  support group on the Internet."

According to Merle Yost, LMFC,  a licensed marriage and family counselor in Oakland, CA, the Internet has been helpful for breaking the silence. "I personally find it incredibly difficult to get groups going" in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was not the case pre-Internet world about 10 years ago. Yost believes the Internet has taken the place of face-to-face male survivor groups in many locations.

"The Internet  helps victims deal with a lot of shame and normalizes the experience, which allows for deeper understanding and validation," Yost said.

"It is not a cure for all. Awareness can be healing, but it depends on the type and duration of the abuse and impact," Yost said. "For some it might be enough to know 'I'm not the only one,' so that 'I can get on with my life now,' but I would guess that is 1 or 2 percent of the total."

With more that two decades in social work under his belt, Washington said he recognized a great need for male sexual abuse support about five years ago.

"We talk about trauma only as it pertains to  addiction" and Washington explained that  treatment for addiction does not  regularly seek the root cause with men, which can often be found in childhood sexual abuse.


Sexual Abuse and the Media

The sexual abuse of boys "is a societal problem that trickles down to the victims and survivor's lives as addiction, but it has never been a trendy media topic," Washington said.

Rape as a weapon of war and power (especially noted today in many countries in Africa  including Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) as a topic Washington said can be lost by the public due to distance.  "I think we listen up a little bit" and did with the Catholic Church priest abuse scandal he said, but then the media moves on to other subjects.

The Amish school murders by
Charles Carl Roberts IV, and the Mark Foley Internet scandal presented new opportunities to bring male sexual abuse forward as a topic in the United States.

Washington said that when news broke that some in the United States military used rape in Iraq prisons "to get the men to talk"  the opportunity was present to discuss male rape in the broader sense, but perhaps the topic was too fantastic due to the association with an increasingly unpopular war.

The public viewed Abu Ghraib prison abuse in the media,  and the war,  as far more dire than a man's little story about childhood sexual abuse, so "we never hone-in specifically on male sexual abuse," Washington said. 

In his observation Gartner concluded that more media reports address  the complexities of recovery when interviewing him, but in the case of priest abuse -- or the scandal that hit Mark Foley who as a boy was sexually abused by a priest--  the media can be too focused on how it affects the Church or the Republican Party  rather than the boys.  Gartner agreed that the case of Mark Foley presented an opportunity to discuss male sexual abuse, but unlike the Catholic Church priest abuse scandal, no male pages have come forward to say Mark Foley molested them as of press time.

Gartner has authored three books to date, the first book Memories of Sexual Betrayal: Truth, Fantasy, Repression, and Dissociation was published in 1998, he authored Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men in 2001, and co-authored Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse in 2005. 

The "watermark," according to Gartner,  of society's willingness to address male sexual abuse changed after the Catholic Church priest abuse scandal  broke in the media during the 1990s, but before that time "the issue wasn't taken seriously by the media or the general public...and even to a point within the mental health profession," he said. 

Some additional books on male sexual abuse recovery have been written by Mike Lew (author of Victims no Longer,)  Dr. Mic Hunter (author of Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse,) and Laura Davis (author of Allies in Healing, and The Courage to Heal.)

In a much more human way,  through simple story telling,  Yost said that no better media creative depicts the sexual exploitation of boys across physical and emotional boundaries --both inside and outside of the family--  than author Scott Heim's 1995 book Mysterious Skin.

Heim's novel
takes the reader through sexual abuse of two 8-year-old boys in rural Kansas and graphically depicts, from the characters' point of view,  how being raped by the same baseball coach catapulted the boys' lives into opposite directions, but so too brought the two characters together later in an attempt to gain control of their lives.

Yost's favorite version of Mysterious Skin was the stage play under the same name from 2003.   The book was made into a film in 2004 (and is available on DVD.) 

Think & Ask
reviewed the book and film version of Mysterious Skin and asked Yost if the graphic, visual, and shocking exploitation of the boys (particularly in the film)  could cause a male survivor of sexual abuse unnecessary emotional trauma.

"It is emotional," Yost said. "Men are classically good at burying their feelings, and yes, watching it may upset them.

"But so what?

"The guys ask in the group, 'How many perps are hetero  or homosexual?'"

"They want to know, and there is not enough research to accommodate their request."

Rommell Washington, MSW-LCSW, New York

"It may give them the opportunity to seek the help they need," Yost said.

Translating Sexual Abuse as an Adult

All of the male survivors screened by Think & Ask reported that the pedophile was  someone they knew, and 46 of 48  described their perpetrator(s)  as a "mentor" before the sexual assault(s) occurred.

Gartner's personal observations in the Mark Foley case --from only what had been reported in the media-- can become an example of how a younger male might walk away (through inappropriate instant messages and/or e-mail in the case of Mark Foley) with the feeling of "betrayal by a trusted adult."

"I'm assuming these bright young people are hoping to make long-term careers in Washington DC, and they are likely to worship these people they admire.

"The betrayal by a hero has psychological ramifications that can be very subtle and yet very clear," Gartner said. Simply as an example he explained that even without physical contact -- a boy who processes the adult's action may lead the younger to think more cynically of  relationships involved in such cases as a political leader to a page or a teacher to a student.

Of 51 perpetrators,  reported by the 48 men surveyed, 82 percent were males older than 18 years of age and two of the perpetrators were females.

When an older man abuses a boy, Yost said, "that 30-year-old man creates more heat and energy than a 16-year-old boy. The boy can't tolerate or match that power. So, for him sex becomes all about power as an adult," to which expands across his adulthood relationships.

Boys who are molested by women (Yost roughly estimated 10-15 percent of his case load)  can develop an inflated sense of power and may "consider themselves God's gift to women -- it becomes a sense of disassociation and it is very difficult for them to come down. This makes the boy feel like he is the greatest conqueror of all time."

Just as Brad determined through therapy --as an adult--  that he didn't want sexual intercourse as a boy,  that revelation is often the case during recovery Gartner said.  The 14-year-old boy doesn't have the capacity to think through all the issues of sexuality as an adult, which can add to the confusion during recovery as the man questions  why he wasn't able to say no or defend himself. This circumstance is even more pronounced when the adult male concludes he gained something positive out of the relationship with the pedophile.

A  boy who is currently involved with a pedophile may determine that he doesn't or didn't want sex, but in this situation "he may feel 'I'll lose the closeness' he has with this relationship," Gartner said. But as that boy grows into adulthood he  translates  sexual activity into  exploitation Gartner concluded.  The same holds true for adult female to boy sexual abuse.  Gartner said that if a boy has a crush on an adult female teacher the boy is not relating that idea on the same level as would the female adult in pursuit of a boy for a sexual relationship.

Another issue Washington described is that he hears male survivors in group therapy asking for research data as part of their quest to understand sexual abuse in society.

The lack of statistics leaves many of the men's questions unanswered Washington said,  including statistics to confirm the scope of male sexual abuse, the number of male to female adult offenders, and heterosexual to homosexual pedophiles.  "The guys ask in the group, 'How many perps are hetero-or-homosexual?'"

"They want to know, and there is not enough research to accommodate their request," Washington said.

What men have learned by attending St. Luke's Roosevelt group sessions though is a bonding tolerance for each other through their grief and recovery. "They may come in with stereotypes" of race or sexual identity Washington said, "but they made that decision that 'I'm ready for the group process,' and that bond of childhood sexual assault makes these men extremely close" despite the background differences. 

Taking  Life Back

John said, "The most important thing I have gained from this experience, has to be the fact that I am now in control of my life.  I am responsible for the things I do.  The childhood trauma  contributed to my mixed-up life and that is where I placed the blame, that is where it belongs and I have left it there. Never to return.

"I am responsible for what happens next and that is powerful," John concluded.

In the broader issue of adult to childhood sex, Brad said,  "I definitely see that an adult should not be the one who brings a boy out of himself."

"I gather from what I've learned now, the ones who do this to boys are really the pedophiles. I was tricked into believing him. He did take advantage of me," Brad said.

"Gays are more likely to get married as a result of the cycle they encounter after the childhood abuse.

"The longer they are in the marriage and realize nothing has changed, there is eventually a blow up which forces change...or they become completely withdrawn from the marriage and self."

Merle Yost, LMFC, Oakland, CA

During the recovery process Gartner said,  "They'll experience a certain amount of reliving whatever trauma they had...certainly some moments will be difficult," but Gartner found that men are glad to have experienced recovery.  Many times Gartner is the first person the survivor has told of childhood abuse.

"Sometimes he'll tell a  girlfriend, and then she'll be the one who suggests he seek therapy," Gartner said.

When hunting for a professional therapist, Yost said, the man "should find someone with the experience of dealing with men." A therapist who helps women recover from sexual abuse may not have the experience a man needs. Yost said he has treated men who sought therapy for sexual abuse, but were not taken seriously by the therapist, "which compounded the shame and wounding already there."

"He must feel intuitively safe" with the therapist and ask how many men the therapist councils on sexual abuse recovery.  He suggested too that the man seeking help ask the potential therapist to explain their feelings and philosophy about male childhood sexual abuse.

What is also a difficult part of recovery for both heterosexual and homosexual males is that in many cases sexual abuse has a degree of pleasure associated with the event Yost explained. In therapy that  pleasure must be differentiated with the "abuse and power" of the predator over the boy so that the male victim can regain pleasure in his adult life.

Boys who are gay take the lion's share of abuse, Yost concluded. Gay males are more likely to be sexually abused because they are more socially "isolated, they are usually a loner, and more of a target."

"Gay boys are easy access and may be looking for a role model or for someone to pay attention to them. They get the disproportionate amount of male sexual abuse," Yost said.

If a boy or teenager is unclear about his sexual identity at the age of abuse, "it can dramatically impact the abuse especially for gay men," he said.

Gartner trains other mental health professionals on how to cope with and assist male survivors of sexual abuse. Some years ago, "I often asked how many people they were treating for sexual abuse. I'd get a couple of hands," he said. "Then I'd ask 'How many of you have ever asked?'

"People didn't ask," Gartner said. "I don't get that anymore -- most of them do now ask," which is a positive for the male survivor community.

Gartner said that with the breadth of support within the psychological community for treatment has grown in recent years, even if a man locates a therapist who has not yet assisted a sexual abuse survivor that therapist has an option to seek professional consultation in working with the male survivor and gain the working knowledge to assist the patient through recovery.

Helping Parents and Partners

Jay offered a stern warning for  parents of a boy they suspect may be a victim of sexual abuse.

"They must seek out immediate psychological help," and to boys Jay said, "He's got to tell his parents or an adult so that he can get the help and attention he will need as a result of the abuse."

Parents have to educate themselves on the signs, Yost suggested.  "If there is a sudden change of behavior, or if they are getting to close with someone of inappropriate age, you need to investigate why," Yost said.

Bed-wetting, anorexia, and violent outbursts, were also signs that that "something is going on," he said.

"It is not just 'boys being boys.'

"Too much behavior is written off because they are boys, and parents are not looking at the cause," Yost said.

Boys need the opportunity to express who they are, and to tell what is going on around them he said.

In Gartner's experience there are many boys who do tell their parents when inappropriate adult behavior makes the boy uncomfortable or involves sexual activity. Those who tell often have the sense already that their parents will be receptive and will not judge the boy.

"Some boys whether rightly or wrongly think their parents will judge them," so the boy will keep the trauma secret. The parents' reactions can be more difficult to size-up. "A parent's first reaction say, 'Why did you let this happen?' is an inappropriate response for  12-year-old boy" and places the responsibility for the molest on the boy.

The boy too can take it upon himself to keep silent in order to protect the adult if he fears a parent might kill the adult, or if the boy has ambivalent feelings towards the adult molester. "They may not want to get the person in trouble, perhaps a great deal of the relationship is important to him, even if he knows he doesn't want sex," Gartner said.

"Support for survivor's loved ones is not addressed enough," Gartner said. "Spouses are often left high and dry" in understanding the recovery process. 

Gartner suggested parents and partners read the books for survivors  to get a sense of what happened in the abuse cycle and  what happens in recovery therapy. He suggested joining  malesurivor.org  discussion forms, ask questions of the members, read what men have posted, "all of this can be done anonymously. It can be a scary process," he said, but in the end the parent or partner makes contact with the issues in order to provide encouragement to the survivor. 

"Make themselves available for him to talk to, be supportive, but don't be pushing him or pressing him to move faster," Gartner concluded.

Some of the aftermath behavior is difficult for the spouse to understand, and Gartner suggested that the spouse, or parent or loved one may also find it helpful to find or form a group of support.

Myths, Marriage, Men

Some common myths about boys who were sexually abused:

Stranger danger is rare and the easiest myth to dispel. By in large, boys are sexually assaulted by someone they'll already know the professionals said.

There is no doubt that some survivors act out, and enough evidence exists to show that pedophiles were sexually assaulted as children;  however,  it is generally accepted that an overwhelming majority of survivors do not molest. The professionals distinctly point out that when a survivor is "fearful of" or "worried that he is  doomed to molest," because he was molested,  it is a positive sign that reflects the internal value processing between appropriate and inappropriate behavior and the natural desires of  these men not to molest.

There is no evidence to show that males who were abused by adult females exhibited any less trauma than adult man to boy abuse, because adult to child sexual molestation carries the same power control. Boys abused by men however do have the added burden of sexual identity issues.

Bragging rights about scoring the "bodacious babe" is typical with young males...however research suggests that bragging and action are not the same.

As boys enter and experience puberty it is natural to experience sexual feelings, but these are reserved for the privacy of one's own space. When sexual abuse by an adult becomes part  of this equation it changes the boy's outlook, expectations, and fantasies about sexual intercourse.  Sexual abuse disrupts the progressive and natural process of a boy in reaching sexual maturity and dealing with relationships with his peers.

In the six days before this story was set to go to press another case emerged in the news involving  prominent Christian leader Reverend Ted Haggard and his male sexual partner Mike Jones of Denver, CO.  Haggard, who is married to a woman and is the father of five, first denied knowing Jones before admitting to a three-year-long sexual relationship with Jones.  Haggard wrote in a letter to his Christian followers that he had been fighting sexual urges for most of his life, although at press time he had not made  clear whether the urges were only homosexual in nature.

Haggard used the name "Art" in correspondences with Jones and it remains unclear what role,  if any,  illegal drugs played in the relationship, nonethless, Haggard was removed from his dominate role as a leader in one the United States' largest religious movements.  As of press time Haggard had not disclosed whether or not he was sexually abused as a boy,  however the pattern exhibited by Haggard fits what Yost described as the struggle for  gay boys --who were sexually abused-- in their  attempt to fix, within themselves and fail so to do, to regain control of their lives as adult men.

Yost's comments were not intended for the Haggard case specifically, but he said that he has found, "Gays are more likely to get married (to women) as a result of the cycle they encounter" after  childhood sexual  abuse.

In his experience gay male victims of childhood sexual abuse were more likely to convince themselves that in marrying a woman they would "magically take away what they have been fighting internally" at the point of which the abuse first occurred by a pedophile.  For this reason, it  is particularly important for men to seek help in processing the loss and lack of control over the pedophile Yost concluded.

"The longer they are in the marriage and realize nothing has changed, there is eventually a blow up which forces change...or they become completely withdrawn from the marriage and self," Yost said.

"It becomes a hard loop for them to get out of," Yost said.

Additional reporting by Aaron Hoffstein.


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