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Clin Psychol Rev. 1997;17(1):69-88.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil: why do relatively few male victims of childhood sexual abuse receive help for abuse-related issues in adulthood?

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University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.


This literature review explores the reasons why comparatively few adult males with a history of childhood sexual abuse are seen by professionals for help with difficulties relating to that abuse. Two potential explanations are discounted as myths-that relatively few males are sexually abused, and that abuse has little effect on males. However, it is suggested that society (including professionals and the victims themselves) has given credence to these myths. Male victims are relatively unlikely to disclose their experience of childhood abuse, and (as a coping strategy) they deny the impact of sexual abuse on their lives. Professionals fail to hypothesise that their male clients may have been abused, and do not create the conditions that would enable males to talk about the abuse. Blumer's (1971) model of the social construction of problems is applied to account for these beliefs and behaviours on the part of victims and clinicians. It is argued that the childhood sexual abuse of males has not yet acquired legitimacy as a problem recognised by society, thus lagging behind the abuse of females. In short, the "evil' of childhood sexual abuse in the male population is not being seen or heard by clinicians, and is not being recognised or talked about by victims. Clinical implications are considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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