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Sexual Abuse and Rape

About Masturbation
March 13, 2019
Myths About the Human Penis
March 16, 2019

Why Male Victims of Child Sexual Abuse Keep It a Secret




In a previous article, I discussed what I consider to be the six major reasons why former victims of child sexual abuse often keep the secret long into adulthood.

Even though it is estimated that 1 in 6 males have experienced childhood sexual abuse, the numbers are undoubtedly higher because many male victims never report their abuse. In this article,

I will discuss the reasons why male victims have an even more difficult time than female victims in telling anyone they were sexually abused as a child or adolescent. While they have the same concerns outlined in my previous article, males have some issues that make it especially difficult for them to disclose

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Like female victims, males who have been sexually abused are often confused or misinformed as to what constitutes sexual abuse. The sexual abuse may have felt good and because of this, a male child or teenager may not consider what happened to them to be sexual abuse.


For example, those who were molested by a female often don’t consider it sexual abuse

.

Often sexual abuse by a female goes unreported by boys because they consider sex with an older female as a “right of passage.” For example, male adolescents who are sexually abused by a female teacher often feel as if they weren’t abused at all, but that they willingly got involved sexually with the teacher. When the abuse is finally discovered, many of these former victims will insist that, in fact, they felt they were the instigator of the sexual relationship.


Confusion


But whether the youth felt he was abused or not, the truth is that sexual involvement with adults is harmful to children and adolescents. At their age, they are simply not capable of making a free choice when it comes to sex with an adult. Many young men who became involved with a female teacher later suffer from significant problems, including hyper-sexuality, aggression against females and difficulty trusting others.

Michel Dorais, a researcher and author of Don’t Tell: The Sexual Abuse of Boys, emphasizes the control factor when there is a difference in age and power between the victim and the aggressor. While male on male abuse certainly can include sadistic or violent aggression, often the perpetrator employs various subterfuges, gradually leading the child to participate in sexual acts.

This can make it difficult for the child to realize he is being abused. The victim must come to realize that even though he may believe he participated willingly, his participation was obtained by ruse, lies, force or fear (whatever the degree of physical, moral, or psychological constraint used).

As Dorais explains in his book, some boys were particularly vulnerable because they were interested in exploring a situation that presented itself to them, whether it was getting closer to someone they were fond of, satisfying their sexual curiosity or simply not displeasing their aggressor.



What characterizes the abuse in such cases is that the experience goes far beyond what the child anticipated, and more importantly, beyond what he was ready to agree to or go through. When the situation involves two boys of different ages, with the elder taking advantage of the younger, it can be even more difficult for someone to realize he has been abused. The relationship between strength and power is often less evident in such cases than it is when the abuser is an adult. It can be difficult to distinguish between sexual exploration between peers and sexual exploitation.

Again, the answer lies in the balance or imbalance of power. An abuse has occurred between peers when the younger has been coerced into sexual activities demanded of him.

Sometimes, as in the case of abuse perpetrated by an older brother, it is only years later when time has provided perspective and the younger child has had time to develop more emotionally that what was once considered to be a voluntary act comes to be recognized as being abusive.

This was the case with my former client Todd, who was twenty-six when I first began to see him. When Todd was about eight years old, his older brother David, who was three years older, introduced him to masturbation by masturbating in front of him and encouraging Todd to join in.

Todd wanted to impress his older brother and so, even though he felt somewhat embarrassed, he did as his brother suggested. This became a ritual of sorts, with the two of them masturbating together for several years.

Even though he was too young to actually ejaculate, Todd found the experience to be enjoyable and he especially liked bonding with his brother, who normally either bullied him or ignored him.

By the time Todd was about nine years old, his brother convinced him to masturbate him. Todd told me he didn’t like doing this and felt very guilty afterward since he was afraid it would make him a homosexual. But when he resisted, his brother would threaten to stop spending time with him.



Todd didn’t want that, so he complied. As the years went by, his brother continued to demand that Todd do more and more so that by the time Todd was twelve he and his brother were performing oral sex on one another. This continued until the older brother left home at 18. For years, Todd felt tremendous shame about what he and his brother did together and always felt like he was a willing participant.

It wasn’t until he was in his early twenties that he began to question whether he had actually been victimized by his brother. Todd married his high school sweetheart when she became pregnant, and by 21 he already had a child. When his son turned five Todd noticed that he was very uncomfortable when his brother David spent time with his son.

He suddenly realized that he was afraid that David might be inappropriate with his son like he had been with him. It was this that brought Todd into therapy. Former victims who experienced an erection and/or ejaculation during sexual abuse may be especially confused. In his study of sexual abusers, Nicolas Groth emphasized that aggressors make a special effort to ensure that their young male victims experience sexual excitation or orgasm.

There are several reasons for this. When a victim connects his sexual excitement with consensual participation he feels all the more guilty or confused and this will discourage him from telling or making a complaint. He is also afraid that his testimony will be discredited since he received physical pleasure. His reasoning would be “If I was really abused, how could I have felt any gratification?”

Groth explains that many people wrongly believe that if a boy or man is in a state of fear or anxiety he will not be able to have an erection or to ejaculate but this is absolutely not true.In my former client Derrick’s case, an older boy in the neighborhood told Derrick he would teach him how big boys masturbated.



At the time Derrick was 13 and the older boy 16. Masturbation began as a kind of game with the two boys masturbating in front of each other to see who would ejaculate first.

But then the older boy told Derrick he would show him how to have “real sex” with girls when he got older. He convinced Derrick to take down his trousers and before Derrick realized what was happening, the older boy was sodomizing him. Derrick described the pain as excruciating:

“I thought I was going to die it hurt so bad,” he said. When the older boy finished, Derrick got angry with him and told him he never wanted to see him again. But the older boy told him, “You’ll be back, you liked it. You got a hard-on didn’t you?”

Derrick was immediately overwhelmed with shame because he remembered that he had gotten an erection during the attack. This confused him and he remembered telling himself that he must have enjoyed it or he wouldn’t have gotten an erection.

He did stay away from the older boy from that time forward but it began a lifetime of self-doubt and concern that he might be homosexual or that he must

be masochistic.

Shame and Self-Blame

Sexual abuse consistently causes a child to feel ugly inside and feel as if they are “used property” or “damaged goods.” Since children typically blame themselves for the abuse, victims tend to feel they are “bad,” “sinful,” and “evil.” And the victimization itself causes a child to lose feelings of personal power since they are forced to feel the impact of being utterly helpless.

While all victims of child sexual abuse feel tremendous shame, males tend to feel even more shame at having been sexually abused than females. This is primarily due to the fact that males in our society do not want to identify themselves as a victim. In our culture (and virtually every culture in the world) boys and men are not supposed to be victims and when they are victimized the popular belief is that the boy must have been too weak to fight off his aggressor or he must have secretly wanted the sexual abuse



Even very young boys believe that they “should have” been able to ward off their attacker, even though there is no logic to this thinking. After all, how can a nine-year-old boy fight off a grown man? In his attempt to find an answer to his question,

“Why me?’ a former male victim may conclude that he was chosen to be abused because of his physical appearance, his voice, the way he was dressed, his attitude or some other aspect of himself that was too feminine or androgynous. He will thus blame himself for having attracted his abuser, for not having defended himself or not having put up enough of a fight. Male victims tend to blame themselves for the abuse, even more than females.

I discussed the need to maintain the illusion of control in the previous article but this need is especially strong in male victims. Most cultures today do not give males the freedom to acknowledge their victimizations. Even little boys are given the message that they should be brave and tough and strong, not weak and helpless.

If someone tries to abuse them they are supposed to defend themselves and push their attacker away. It doesn’t matter if they are only 5 years old and their abuser is a powerful grown man, a male child will still feel he should have been able to defend himself.

The fact that he didn’t, indeed couldn’t, do so is so humiliating and shaming that the child would prefer to tell himself he wasn’t abused at all or that it was his fault.



Identifying with the Aggressor


As a way to maintain the illusion of control some males do what is called “Identifying with the Aggressor.” When a male is abused he can feel so ashamed about having been overpowered by another person that he will often identify with the aggressor. He doesn’t want to be identified as a “victim” and so he denies that he was sexually abused.

He may either convince himself that he was the instigator or that he wanted it. He will do almost anything to avoid having to face the fact that another human being overpowered him or manipulated him into doing something he really didn’t want to do.

Since he refuses to identify himself as a victim, he must identify as an abuser. Thus he takes on “abuser” behavior, including manipulating or even forcing those younger and weaker to do his bidding. In short, he becomes an abuser.


Guilt


Male victims often do not tell about the abuse because they feel guilty about things they did in response to the abuse. For example, often victims will act out against society by shoplifting, being truant, and by breaking the law in other ways.

Male victims, in particular, direct their rage against others through aggressive or antisocial acts in an attempt to affirm their virility and in an attempt to reverse their view of themselves as powerless or victimized. Many male victims become very angry at what was done to them and act out their anger and pain by hurting or abusing themselves, other children or their pets.

Unable to express their anger toward the perpetrator, they may have vented their anger at those who were smaller and weaker than themselves. Since they hated themselves for being weak and helpless, they may have hated others who they perceived as weak and bullied them or sexually abused them.



Fears about Homosexuality

Male victims have an additional problem that females do not usually have to grapple with. Sexual abuse can cause males to worry about whether they are gay—either because they believe that the acts they engaged in with a male made them into a homosexual or because they believe a male would not have been interested in them if they weren’t gay

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Boys who discover they are homosexual after experiencing sexually abuse by a male will often be confused as to whether they, in fact, “seduced’ the abuser or whether the abuser actually played a role in “initiating” them into homosexual sex.

Dorais found that the stronger the boy’s impression that he participated actively in the sexual experiences the stronger his sense that he revealed himself to be homosexual, the more he will tend to internalize the burden of the abuse. In short, the more physical gratification the victim experienced, the more the abuse will seem to him to be an initiation into homosexuality.

This was my client Shane’s experience. Shane came to see me because he was severely depressed. He explained that he was gay and that he was involved with a man who physically abused him. He wanted to leave him but he couldn’t seem to do it.

As it turned out, Shane had developed a pattern of being involved with abusive men, most of whom were much older than he. This made me wonder whether Shane had been abused as a child but Shane told me that no abuse had occurred. When I asked him if he had been sexually abused he said no, but when I asked him to describe his first sexual experience, he told me it was with a “much older man.”

I pressed him for an approximate age and he told me that the man was probably in his thirties and that he was only 15 at the time. I immediately became concerned about this age difference and wanted to know the details. Shane explained that he had met the man at a local park when the man approached him. In spite of the fact that the man was so much older than



Shane and clearly the aggressor, Shane insisted that what happened between them was his initiation into sex, since he already knew he was gay. Even though Shane had never experienced any form of sex with a man before and the man physically forced his penis into Shane’s anus,

Shane refused to beliethat he had been sexually abused. It took quite some time before Shane came to understand that he had, in fact, been sexually assaulted and that he was repeating the abuse by continually being involved with much older men who physically and sexually abused him.

There are many misconceptions about childhood sexual abuse, including what constitutes abuse, who the abusers are, and how they operate. The goal of this article was to help you gain more clarity about these issues. For some of you, this article may have answered enough of your questions so that now you may be very clear that you were sexually abused.

Others of you may still feel confused and continue to have unanswered questions. In this case, I hope that you will reach out for help, either to a psychotherapist or to a hotline or website. As with most things, the more you learn about child sexual abuse, the abler you will be to decide whether you are, in fact, a victim.

Childhood sexual abuse of boys, perpetrated by another male, may lead a man to again and again seek out sexual encounters with men in an unconscious effort to resolve the guilt and shame he feels around the original encounter.

What we find, instead, is that memories about the abuse from another male can become eroticized for a man, which then compels him to seek out same-sex encounters or porn. This does not mean that he is gay or bisexual, though he may have enduring fantasies about gay sex.


Returning to the scene of the sexual crime.



A boy who has become traumatized from such an event usually becomes quite adept in adulthood at compartmentalization—so much so that he may even “forget” that he has these compulsions until they are upon him again.

He has a shame imprint that prevents him from talking about this with anyone … until, of course, his behavior has brought about some crisis in his heterosexual relationship. Perhaps his partner has discovered some of these secret encounters, or the man is having intimacy problems, trouble getting or keeping an erection, or reaching orgasm.

I encounter more of these situations in my office than you might imagine. I have found that the first step is to see the man who has been abused in childhood in individual therapy, working through his grief and his anger at the loss of innocent sexual development, helping him understand how his own sexuality was eclipsed by the sexuality of the perpetrator, leaving him sexually disoriented.

He knows that he is straight, but continues to try to unconsciously resolve the tension between his fantasies and his sexual identity by seeking out these gay sexual encounters

.A man returning from encounters that don’t match his core sexual identity may struggle for hours or days over such questions as “Am I gay or bi?” when, in fact, he is neither. Nor is he a “sex addict.” Rather, he is compelled to return to the scene of the sexual crime, becoming the little boy trying to figure out why it happened:

Was it something about me that made him pick me?

Did I want it?

Was there something I did or said to get him to do this to me?

Did this make me gay or bisexual, and am I suppressing it?



Sexual abuse might impact his erotic interests, but this is not the same as orientation. Sexual orientation determines who a man is attracted to, whether it be a man, a woman, both, or even exotic combinations of gender characteristics. Erotic interest is different: It captures the sexual fantasies and erotic situations one is turned on by; gender may be less important here.

Bringing the compulsion out of the shadows can help put the man in conscious control instead of under the unconscious control of the compulsion. This is not to say that the fantasies will then go away.

They are early imprints that have become eroticized, and will likely be with him for life. The goal is to take mastery of the behavior so that you’re not acting out anymore against your own will.

The next step in therapy is to get the client into a men’s sexual abuse group. I often find that men who have experienced childhood sexual abuse have been silent about it throughout their life.

Being able to openly talk about with other men helps reduce the shame, which is huge. Victims of childhood sexual abuse will typically carry the shame of the perpetrator, as well as their own. Getting out from behind the veil of secrecy is necessary if one is to successfully shed this shame.

Trauma Reenactment vs. Trauma Play

And finally, in most instances some parts of the eroticization of the abuse remain. In other words, something that was introduced to him during the abuse has now become part of his sexual fantasies and preferences. Many therapists believe that if the male survivor continues to eroticize anything that came from the abuse they are unhealed.



This is wrong.


From a sexual-health perspective, even after healing from trauma one goes from trauma reenactment to trauma play. The origin of the fantasy might come from abuse, but now it is about play and mastery. I help clients learn to enjoy these fantasies, and eliminate the shame around them.

This doesn’t mean they must act them out behaviorally, but they might want to, and that Is fine. However, most choose to keep them as fantasies, watch this kind of pornography and masturbate, or even talk aloud about the fantasies with understanding partners.

On another important note: gay and bisexual men who have been sexually abused become sexually disoriented as well. The disorientation postpones their coming-out process and keeps them from knowing their real sexual identity because, as I have found, the perpetrator’s sexual interests has eclipsed the victim’s real identity.

Understanding the complicated world of sexual behavior and how it plays out in individuals can be fascinating and rewarding work. So much of what people long for, fantasize about, or do in private has been taboo for so long, that it sometimes feels like we have barely begun to understand the depth and breadth of this most basic aspect of human behavior. As a sex therapist, I am privileged to have a daily window into that world, and am often amazed and humbled by what I see.

Male victims of sexual assault: phenomenology, psychology, physiology.



Myths, stereotypes, and unfounded beliefs about male sexuality, in particular male homosexuality, are widespread in legal and medical communities, as well as among agencies providing services to sexual assault victims.

These include perceptions that men in noninstitutionalized settings are rarely sexually assaulted, that male victims are responsible for their assaults, that male sexual assault victims are less traumatized by the experience than their female counterparts, and that ejaculation is an indicator of a positive erotic experience.

As a result of the prevalence of such beliefs, there is an underreporting of sexual assaults by male victims; a lack of appropriate services for male victims; and, effectively, no legal redress for male sexual assault victims. By comparison, male sexual assault victims have fewer resources and greater stigma than do female sexual assault victims.

Many male victims, either because of physiological effects of anal rape or direct stimulation by their assailants, have an erection, ejaculate, or both during the assault. This is incorrectly understood by assailant, victim, the justice system, and the medical community as signifying consent by the victim.

Studies of male sexual physiology suggest that involuntary erections or ejaculations can occur in the context of nonconsensual, receptive anal sex. Erections and ejaculations are only partially under voluntary control and are known to occur during times of extreme duress in the absence of sexual pleasure.



Particularly within the criminal justice system, this misconception, in addition to other unfounded beliefs, has made the courts unwilling to provide legal remedy to male victims of sexual assault, especially when the victim experienced an erection or an ejaculation during the assault. Attorneys and forensic psychiatrists must be better informed about the physiology of these phenomena to formulate evidence-based opinions.

The psychological impact of sexual abuse: content analysis of interviews with male survivors.


Autobiographical interviews with 26 adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and content analyzed to identify common psychological themes

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Approximately equal numbers of men were abused by male and female perpetrators, almost half came from disrupted or violent homes and a majority had a history of substance abuse. Fifteen psychological themes were identified: Anger, Betrayal, Fear, Homosexuality Issues, Helplessness, Isolation and Alienation, Legitimacy, Loss, Masculinity Issues,

Negative Childhood Peer Relations, Negative Schemas about People, Negative Schemas about the Self, Problems with Sexuality, Self Blame/Guilt and Shame/Humiliation. The themes are discussed and illustrated with examples drawn from the transcripts.


The unheard victims

The underreporting of the sexual abuse of males, and the societal disbelief that still presides over men’s experience of sexual violation, means that many males live in fear of reporting their abuse, or do not receive adequate support when they do.

We consider how complex trauma, such that is created by sexual abuse and its aftermath, needs increased specialist services for male survivors

.

We argue that although sexual abuse is horrific for every survivor, regardless of who they are, male survivors have a particular set of problems that continue to need to be addressed by service providers and society as a whole

.

Last year saw much discussion in The Psychologist over gender and mental health. In February, Daniel and Jason Freeman claimed that women are more likely than men to develop a range of mental health disorders.

Their article was countered in the March issue by Martin Seager and colleagues, who (in our view correctly) claimed that mental health problems in men are woefully underreported, resulting in the hidden mental pain of large numbers of men. We would like to add to this debate by considering one particular issue – the sexual victimisation of men and boys.

We pose some broad questions. What do we currently understand about the needs of male sexual abuse survivors? What can service providers offer as potential positive outcomes for males who have experienced sexual abuse across the lifespan? And what part does psychology as a profession have to play in helping to support such outcomes?


What we know

Historically, sexual crimes against males were considered impossible or at best rare with the result that service provision for male survivors has been considered unnecessary. Indeed, the publicity that sexual crime received as a feminist issue contributed to the isolation experienced by male survivors (Davies, 2002),



Although of course Lew (2004) is correct that without women’s activism there would be even less support for males than already exists. In recent years the scarcity of information and lack of publicity about male sexual victimisation has slowly begun to change.

In parallel there has been a shift toward increased rates of reporting of sexual offences against males. In 2002, for instance, only 4096 sexual assaults and 852 rapes were recorded as being committed against men in the UK (Davies & Rutland, 2007). In 2010/11 however, whilst police recorded rapes upon women had increased by five per cent from 2009/10 to 2010/11, recorded rapes committed upon men rose by 12 per cent during the same timescale (Osborne, 2011).

Whilst the above reporting figures may highlight efforts that legal services have taken to increase the recording of sexual crimes against males, we know that reported sexual crimes only scratch the surface of actual offences, and that there are still biases in the way that some crimes are recorded but others are not.

The facts are simply that the majority of sexual abuse cases are never reported, and many survivors live with their hidden pain for life, without seeking help or professional support.

Let’s look at some figures. In a study of 40 UK male rape survivors, Walker et al. (2005a) showed that only five out of the 40 men had ever reported their rape to the police. Of the five, four claimed their dealings with the police were wholly negative, and only one case out of the five resulted in a conviction. Furthermore, post-rape medical services were utilised by only 14 out of the 40, with only five of the 14 revealing the sexual context of the assault (the others only disclosing their physical injuries).



This means that most male rape survivors do not receive testing for sexually transmitted diseases that they may have contracted during their rape, and receive no follow-up support from psychological services to deal with the aftermath of their assault. Even if they do, the support they receive may be inadequate (see Burrowes & Hovarth, 2013; Foster et al., 2012; Lew, 2004; Mathews, 1996; Somerset, 2014).

In a follow-up study, Walker et al. (2005b) investigated the psychological functioning of these 40 male rape survivors compared with 40 matched controls, and found that the rape group experienced lower psychological functioning than the control sample. The average time of assault compared to time of study was 10 years, clearly showing the long-term negative psychological effects of rape upon men. Alarmingly, 19 out of this group of 40 men had attempted suicide after their rape.

Despite these long-lasting and profound psychological effects, men in general find it incredibly difficult to seek support due to their lack of willingness to approach a suitable service, or because the services available are inappropriate. Societal myths and victim-blaming attitudes, prevalent in society, significantly contribute to the stigma surrounding this type of offence and serve to act as a wall between the survivor and possible help and support.

In a recent Australian investigation O’Leary (2009) and O’Leary and Gould (2009) showed similar findings to Walker et al (2005a; 2005b), namely that sexually abused men (in this study, men abused as children) suffered a range of mental health difficulties, substance abuse and suicidality.

When compared with matched controls, men sexually abused in childhood appeared four times more likely to qualify for a clinical mental health diagnosis, and 10 times more likely to qualify for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For male survivors, societal expectations about the male gender role and the concept of male (hetero-) sexuality impacts significantly on men’s understanding of what sexual victimisation means to them.



This results in many male survivors questioning their gender identity after sexual abuse (Walker et al., 2005a; see also Davies et al., 2010). Males blame themselves both for not stopping the abuse from happening and for struggling with the aftermath, because ‘as men they should be able to cope’.

The sense of not living up to the masculine ideal of being strong, tough and able to protect oneself from adversity makes men who have been sexually abused unlikely to seek help due to their fear of ridicule and blame (Dorahi & Clearwater, 2012; Lee & James, 2012; Lisak, 2005).


Complex trauma


Although not officially recognised in diagnostic classification by DSM-5, the term ‘complex trauma’ as used in this article describes a broad-ranging set of disorders, symptoms and social problems that are not captured by a limited diagnostic category of PTSD.

The DSM-5 now notes that PTSD ‘may be especially severe or long-lasting when the stressor is interpersonal and intentional (e.g. torture, sexual violence)’ (APA, 2013, p.275), which goes some way to describing the complexity of the long-lasting traumas that sexual abuse survivors face. It does not, however, cover the broader issues relating to, for example, long-term social problems that many male survivors contend with.

We argue that the blaming and disbelief of the male survivor experience deepens trauma of the original abuse experience, whilst serving to isolate him from the world. Sarbin (1986) posits that self-narratives support human identity, and, without a story that is transparent, survivors experience a sense of detachment from the world around them. In short, he is unheard.



For many survivors, sexual abuse was not just a one-off event. Repeated trauma caused by ongoing sexual abuse, or victimisation experiences that occurred at different times through life, create a prolonged and profound set of problems that readily cause multiple social and mental health issues, such as depression, addictive and self-harming behaviour, substance abuse and dissociative and personality disorders (Wall & Quadara, 2014).

Further, re-victimisation is likely to compound the effects of prior abuse experiences (e.g. Briere & Jordan, 2004), the strength and complexity of which is not covered in the PTSD diagnosis.


Service provision


Judith Herman, in her seminal work Trauma and Recovery (1997), argued that some violations are too terrible to tell; and for many, the ‘unspeakable’ is still present and impacting upon their mental well-being.

We argue that current service provision has largely failed to address the complex needs of male survivors. All sufferers of complex trauma need a multifaceted, varied and specialist approach.

Harvey et al. (in McMackin et al., 2013) note that models of complex PTSD and an ecological approach support recovery in trauma survivor populations. The negative effects on mental health that sexual victimisation can cause are readily acknowledged by professionals, but isolated treatment of particular symptoms may not resolve the underlying and deep-seated issues caused by sexual abuse (Wall & Quadara, 2014).



Indeed, some survivors spend years and thousands of pounds in intensive psychotherapy working on issues relating to the complex trauma associated with sexual abuse (Bird, 2014).

Although we know current service provision is not meeting the needs of people with complex trauma, up to now in the UK there has been no consistent approach to guiding services to become more responsive to complex trauma.

Whilst current policy in the UK highlights the importance of integrated services for abuse survivors, there is ongoing debate about how these broad policy objectives can be achieved in practice (see Devaney & Spratt, 2009).

Improving the effectiveness of service provision for people with multiple needs would create enormous benefits for survivors and also save in economic terms. Recent Social Return on Investment (SROI) research carried out by the Zurich Community Trust with a male survivor-led agency (Survivors Manchester: see Somerset, 2014) clearly evidenced the possible economic, as well as psychological, outcomes from integrated service models.

However, this requires the implementation of person-centred – indeed, survivor-centred – systems that provide the array of services necessary to deal with the social and health aspects of complex trauma.

In relation to male sexual abuse survivors, this seamless combination of service provision does not exist at the moment. To enable this, services could build on and adapt existing models used with female survivors.



The elephant in the room – gendering of sexual abuse


We began this article by supporting the argument made by Seager and colleagues (2014) that mental health problems in men are woefully underreported, and their effects often not considered, compared with those of women. We see a similar situation in relation to sexual abuse, such that men’s abuse is underreported,

underresearched, and underprovisioned. Davies (2002) claimed that research and provision for male sexual abuse was, over a decade ago, many years behind that of female sexual abuse, and today, regrettably, the situation appears much the same in many areas.

We are in no way saying that sexual abuse is worse for men than for women, rather that male responses are often different from females ones. For example:

I in children, boys are less likely to disclose at the time sexual abuse occurs than girls (e.g. O’Leary & Barber, 2008);

I men typically disclose being sexually abused in childhood 10 years later than women – on average 22 years after the assault (O’Leary & Barber, 2008; O’Leary & Gould, 2009);

I men are one-and-a-half times less likely than women to report adult sexual assault to the police (Pino & Meier, 1999; although we have seen recent improvements on this situation in the UK); and

I men make fewer and more selective disclosures than women (Hunter, 2011).

Such differences mean that specific services are needed for men. World Health Organization research (2007) shows that gender-neutral approaches in supporting change in men’s health and well-being are less successful than gender-informed ones.



Gendered approaches are needed, directly addressing issues relating to men’s life, such as how cultural practices influence gender scripts and shape men’s and women’s experiences.

The research of Joseph (2012) offers us one possible point to begin psychological debate in how we might support male victims. Joseph describes a model for self-help called THRIVE, part of which we believe is especially important for survivors: ‘Re- Authoring’

.

This refers to listening to the stories the survivor tells himself in order to find new ways of looking at surviving. This model works especially well when male survivors are given support to explore them which hears and honours them as both male and survivor.

In general, fostering better coping in male survivors is the key here. Coping is a dynamic, complex process (O’Leary & Gould, 2010), and what we already know about men’s continued well-being could be used to foster better coping along the lines of Joseph’s THRIVE model. Specifically, we know the following factors that are correlated with men’s enhanced well-being (see also Foster et al., 2012 for further details):

I Practical information and assistance. Working to develop concrete life skills that address the impact of sexual abuse, exploring feelings and learning to tolerate emotional distress (O’Leary & Gould, 2010).

I Talking with someone who is supportive. This may be a work colleague, partner or friend (O’Leary & Gould, 2010).

I Talking with someone who encountered a similar event. Men’s well-being is enhanced not just through receiving support but through having the opportunity to support and help others (Kia-Keating et al., 2010; O’Leary, 2009).

I Developing a sense of hope, positive reinterpretation and growth. Practising optimism, self-understanding, viewing survival and life accomplishments in a positive manner



The problems men experience after sexual abuse can manifest in all areas of their lives, in interpersonal relationships, parenting, employment, and social and leisure activities, and at different points throughout the life span (O’Leary & Gould, 2009). Consequently, it is important that services are flexible enough to respond to a wide range of issues, not just focused around mental health and sexual assault services.


Where we could go


Current service providers struggle to reach out to men. We now need to strengthen existing resources and open up new pathways to encourage and enable male survivors to seek the help that they have denied themselves previously.

Academically and practically we can do more to understand men’s reluctance to access services that are currently available. The current raft of sexual violence inquiries and trials sparked by ‘Operation Yewtree’ offer an opportunity to explore what has previously been ‘unspoken’.

There is no doubt that delivering services to male survivors is a major challenge, and with a changing economic and structural climate, such challenges often seem insurmountable. But within change is often the opportunity to innovate. For example, the increasing development of the web has allowed platforms like Big White Wall (www.bigwhitewall.com), and Psychology

OnLine (www.psychologyonline.co.uk) to be explored. Such platforms could be adapted to deliver support for male survivors, therefore allowing them to avoid having to enter public spaces to receive therapy and support (Craig, 2010). Internet provision can also be combined with group work within the community.



For example, Living Well and 1 in 6 Canada (www.livingwell.org.au and www.1in6.ca) will publish a ground breaking manual on conducting male sexual violence therapy groups this year.

Still underlying the issue of male survivorhood is the cultural belief that men should be strong and resilient and not call out for help – however badly they need it. Psychology is a profession that more than any other holds the possibility in our view of being skilled, open and disciplined enough to focus on supporting sexual violence survivors. The dividends for the profession, society and especially survivors could be profound.

But all stories need listeners to make them good ones – the unheard are watching to see if we are ready to hear their stories and help them re-author, not just the endings, but the tone of the story itself.


Sexual Abuse


Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent. Most victims and perpetrators know each other. Immediate reactions to sexual abuse include shock, fear or disbelief.

Long-term symptoms include anxiety, fear or post-traumatic stress disorder. While efforts to treat sex offenders remain unpromising, psychological interventions for survivors — especially group therapy — appears effective.



The Effects of Trauma Do Not Have to Last a Lifetime


Most people will experience a trauma at some point in their lives, and as a result, some will experience debilitating symptoms that interfere with daily life. The good news is that psychological interventions are effective in preventing many long-term effects

.

Protecting Our Children From Abuse and Neglect


A brochure written for parents, teachers, relatives and those who care for children on how to recognize and prevent child abuse and neglect. Provides information on causes and what happens to abused and neglected children.


Memories of Childhood Abuse


Tips to help you better understand how repressed, recovered or suggested memories may occur and what you can do if you or a family member is concerned about a childhood memory.



Trauma: Childhood Sexual Abuse


Sexual abuse is a particularly sinister type of trauma because of the shame it instills in the victim. With childhood sexual abuse, victims are often too young to know how to express what is happening and seek out help. When not properly treated, this can result in a lifetime of PTSD, depression and anxiety. The trauma that results from sexual abuse is a syndrome that affects not just the victim and their family, but all of our society.

Because sexual abuse, molestation and rape are such shame-filled concepts, our culture tends to suppress information about them. According to childtrauma.org, in the U.S. one out of three females and one out of five males have been victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18 years.

And according to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress (AAETS), 30% of all male children are molested in some way, compared to 40% of females. Some of the most startling statistics unearthed during research into sexual abuse are that children are three times as likely to be victims of rape than adults, and stranger abuse constitutes by far the minority of cases.

It is more likely for a child to experience sexual abuse at the hands of a family member or another supposedly trustworthy adult. Sexual abuse is a truly democratic issue. It affects children and adults across ethnic, socioeconomic, educational, religious, and regional lines

.

Exactly what constitutes “sexual abuse”?



Exactly what constitutes “sexual abuse”?


The Incest Survivors Resource Network states that "the erotic use of a child, whether physically or emotionally, is sexual exploitation in the fullest meaning of the term, even if no bodily contact is ever made." It’s important to notice this clause about “no sexual contact.” Often, victims of sexual abuse will try to downplay their experience by saying that it “wasn’t that bad.” It’s vital to recognize that abuse comes in many shapes, colors and sizes and that all abuse is bad.


Outcomes of sexual abuse


By far the most common effect of sexual abuse is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Symptoms can extend far into adulthood and can include withdrawn behavior, reenactment of the traumatic event, avoidance of circumstances that remind one of the event, and physiological hyper-reactivity.

Another legacy of sexual abuse is that children abused at any early age often become hyper-sexualized or sexually reactive. Issues with promiscuity and poor self-esteem are unfortunately common reactions to early sexual abuse.

Substance abuse is a common outcome of sexual abuse. In fact, according to the AAETS, “specialists in the addiction field (alcohol, drugs and eating disorders) estimate that up to 90 percent of their patients have a known history of some form of abuse.”



Specific symptoms of sexual abuse

:

Withdrawal and mistrust of adults

Suicidality

Difficulty relating to others except in sexual or seductive ways

Unusual interest in or avoidance of all things sexual or physical

Sleep problems, nightmares, fears of going to bed

Frequent accidents or self-injurious behaviors

Refusal to go to school, or to the doctor, or home

Secretiveness or unusual aggressiveness

Sexual components to drawings and games

Neurotic reactions (obsessions, compulsiveness, phobias)

Habit disorders (biting, rocking)

Unusual sexual knowledge or behavior

Prostitution

Forcing sexual acts on other children

Extreme fear of being touched

Unwillingness to submit to physical examination



Studies have shown that children who experience sexual abuse tend to recover quicker and with better results if they have a supportive, caring adult (ideally a parent) consistently in their life.



Why Does Rape Happen?


On July 26, 2012, the following question was posted on Reddit: “Reddit’s had a few threads about sexual assault victims, but are there any redditors from the other side of the story? What were your motivations? Do you regret it?”

Within days, numerous responses were posted including anonymous posts from self-reported perpetrators of sexual assault. When different news outlets picked up the story, there was a deluge of traffic to the thread ranging from brief responses only a few words long to some that were more that 2,000 words in length.

Realizing that this thread posed a unique opportunity to explore many of the rationalizations perpetrators use to justify sexual assault, a team of researchers at Georgia State University downloaded the entire thread and conducted a thematic study of the collected responses. Of the more than 12,000 responses collected, lead researcher Tracy N. Hipp and her colleagues selected 68 first-person accounts by sexual perpetrators to examine further.



The responses were individually read by a team of trained and supervised undergraduate research assistants who followed a formal coding process to classify the different justifications given.Their results, which were recently published in the journal Psychology of Violence allowed them to identify specific themes in the various justifications given. These themes include:

Sexual scripts - Used to guide our behaviour in intimate sexual encounters, these scripts essentially provide the "ground rules" for when sex is appropriate or not. In the first-person accounts studied, 37 percent of respondents justified sexual assault with rationalizations such as "when a woman says no, she really means yes"

Victim blaming - Placing the blame for the rape on the actions or sexual history of the victim. Approximately 29 percent of respondents blamed their victim for drinking too much, not saying "no" loud enough, or not physically resisting their advances. Respondents also blamed their victims for flirting with them or for their previous sexual history (including with the perpetrator).

Hostile sexism - Many perpetrators have extremely negative views about women and often make statements expressing their indignation concerning how they have been treated by women in the past. This hostility seems to carry through to how they treat women in intimate situations with 24 percent of perpetrators expressing anger over some action on the part of their victim. One perpetrator described his disgust at a woman vomiting on his bed and how he responded by violently raping her while she was unconscious.



Biological essentialism - Among perpetrators, there is often a persistent theme that they are personally not responsible for their actions because of their male biology which makes them want sex. For 18 percent of perpetrators, statements such as "my hormones were just going insane" were common with women being given the sole responsibility for preventing the rape from happening.

Objectification - For many perpetrators, sexual objectification (reducing a potential sex partner to only those aspects he finds attractive) is commonly reported. About 18 percent of the first-person accounts studied objectified women by focusing on their physical desirability or describing them as if they were sex toys. One perpetrator even said that, " She wasn’t a person anymore just a path, a tool, a means to an end.”

Sociosexuality- For a further 18 percent of the perpetrators studied, the rape was seen as a way of having as many sexual partners as possible, without any restrictions such as the need for intimacy or an actual relationship. Physical gratification seemed to be the only goal and they often described themselves as feeling bored by "vanilla sex", hence the need for using force.

For most of the accounts studied, multiple themes were found. For example, biological essentialism was often seen together with objectification and victim blame One respondent described how he continued with his sexual assault despite realizing that he was harming his victim because his "hormones were going crazy" and his partner "no longer seemed human to him anymore".

Another perpetrator said that "Most girls don’t really understand how horny guys are" and went on to describe how he would educate his own daughter on how to avoid being raped.



Overall, the different themes explored in this study do appear to reflect how many perpetrators feel the need to control their victims by turning them into sexual objects rather than human beings. They also demonstrate the disturbing cultural norms and values that are often used to perpetuate violence against women. Themes such as victim-blaming,

blatant hostility towards women, sexual objectification and the use of sexual scripts often come into play before and after the sexual assault has occurred. Certainly the hostility towards women, along with a total disregard for their feelings, that comes through in the accounts covered in this study is far more common that most people would prefer to believe

.

Given the anonymous nature of the data in this research, there is no way to determine how well they describe the mindset of sexual assault perpetrators in general. Still, as Tracy N. Hipp and her fellow researchers point out in discussing their findings, there is much more that need to be done to challenge the erroneous beliefs often used to justify rape, whether by the perpetrators themselves or by others after the fact.

Victim blaming, objectification, and denigration of women due to their appearance or perceived sexual history need to be challenged whenever they occur, whether in real life or online. That also includes challenging ideas about "biological essentialism" and sexual scripts that deprive people of their right to say no.



There is no acceptable alternative.


Is rape about control or sex?


In the early days of American feminism, Susan Brownmiller (in Against Our Will) proposed that rape is a crime through which men everywhere control and terrorize women. Evolutionary psychologists have been at pains to show that rape is actually a sexual crime through which men seek sexual gratification from women who would otherwise refuse them.

The classic rejoinder to Brownmiller was by Don Symons in The Evolution of Human Sexuality. Symons reviewed forensic evidence showing that victims, as a class, were most likely to be young physically attractive women (as opposed to older, more successful career women). On the other hand, convicted rapists were disproportionately young disadvantaged men whose low social status made them undesirable as dating partners, or husbands.

Since Symons's resounding defeat of Brownmiller, the waters have grown much muddier. One reason is that date rape, or rape by an acquaintance, has emerged as the most common type of sexual assault. It is now recognized as a real problem on college campuses.



College men do not fit the profile of rapists drawn by Symons because they have high social status rather than being underprivileged. Moreover, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, a date rapist is often one who first succeeds in getting a date.

In the light of the recent discoveries about date rape, it seems that laying the blame for rapes largely on poor men might simply reflect biased treatment by the criminal justice system.

Date rapists are notoriously difficult to prosecute for a variety of legal and practical reasons. There may be no witnesses. Some level of consent by the victim may be implied by the situation, such as going home alone with the perpetrator. Both parties may have been intoxicated at the time of the assault. There may be disagreement about what actually happened and whether it was consensual.

Most of these issues are highlighted by the Julian Assange case in which the notorious publisher of WikiLeaks was recently extradited from England to Sweden in order to stand trial for sexual assaults of two women with whom he evidently had consensual sex. The charges stem in part from a technicality in Swedish law whereby the failure to use a condom can constitute rape.

Another oddity of the case is that both women, who are friends, appear to have been pleased by the encounter. After they put their heads together, they had second thoughts. Fearing exposure to sexually transmitted disease, they demanded that Assange be tested but he refused.



The Assange case may well hinge on communication problems between men and women about when consent is given, or withheld, and to what.

Such communication problems inspired the preposterous code adopted by Vassar college where each party obtained explicit approval for each successive level of intimacy like a pair of mating cyborgs. A simpler, if more old-fashioned, solution would be if couples got to know each other a little better before jumping into bed together, contrary to the hooking up in vogue on college campuses.


Sexual gratification or control over women?


Stranger rape takes different forms, including a political version and a sadistic version but the majority of sexual assaults are more about sexual gratification than control over women per se. But what can one say about date rape? Is this extremely common form of rape consistent with the feminist pattern of men controlling women, or does it fit more neatly within the evolutionary psychological perspective where rape is primarily a sexual crime?

The inherent conflict in date rape is not really about consent to some level of sexual intimacy because some degree of consent is implied by a woman agreeing to go out with the man. The real issue is not a difference over whether to engage in physical intimacy but rather as to the degree of intimacy and its timing.

In other words, it is not an either/or situation. Date rape is a sexual crime but it is also about who controls the interaction, an issue of great concern for feminists, and for women in general. In other words, date rape mixes up the feminist perspective on rape with the evolutionary one.



Rape trauma syndrome


Rape trauma syndrome (RTS) is the psychological trauma experienced by a rape victim that includes disruptions to normal physical, emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal behavior. The theory was first described by nurse Ann Wolbert Burgess and sociologist Lynda Lytle Holmstrom in 1974.

RTS is a cluster of psychological and physical signs, symptoms and reactions common to most rape victims immediately following a rape, but which can also occur for months or years afterwards.[2] While most research into RTS has focused on female victims, sexually abused males (whether by male or female perpetrators) also exhibit RTS symptoms.

RTS paved the way for consideration of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which can more accurately describe the consequences of serious, protracted trauma than posttraumatic stress disorder alone.[5] The symptoms of RTS and post-traumatic stress syndrome overlap. As might be expected, a person who has been raped will generally experience high levels of distress immediately afterward.

These feelings may subside over time for some people; however, individually each syndrome can have long devastating effects on rape victims and some victims will continue to experience some form of psychological distress for months or years. It has also been found that rape survivors are at high risk for developing substance use disorders, major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and eating disorders

The acute stage occurs in the days or weeks after a rape. Durations vary as to the amount of time the victim may remain in the acute stage. The immediate symptoms may last a few days to a few weeks and may overlap with the outward adjustment stage.



According to Scarse,[7] there is no "typical" response amongst rape victims. However, the U.S. Rape Abuse and Incest National Network[8] (RAINN) asserts that, in most cases, a rape victim's acute stage can be classified as one of three responses: expressed ("He or she may appear agitated or hysterical, [and] may suffer from crying spells or anxiety attacks"); controlled

("the survivor appears to be without emotion and acts as if 'nothing happened' and 'everything is fine'"); or shock/disbelief ("the survivor reacts with a strong sense of disorientation. They may have difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or doing everyday tasks. They may also have poor recall of the assault"). Not all rape survivors show their emotions outwardly.

Some may appear calm and unaffected by the assault

Survivors in this stage seem to have resumed their normal lifestyle. However, they simultaneously suffer profound internal turmoil, which may manifest in a variety of ways as the survivor copes with the long-term trauma of a rape. In a 1976 paper, Burgess and Holmstrom[10] note that all but 1 of their 92 subjects exhibited maladaptive coping mechanisms after a rape. The outward adjustment stage may last from several months to many years after a rape.



rape is complex


She met him on the dating website Plenty of Fish. They met up at her apartment to watch a movie. The man was arrested after she told the authorities he raped her

Another woman was passed out drunk behind a dumpster. A student at the same party she was attending found her, pulled up her dress and raped her.

The psychology behind rape is complex, and researchers have different hypotheses about what goes on in the mind of a rapist.

Otterbein University psychology professor Norm Shpancer detailed evolutionary psychology reasons for why men rape women in a 2014 Psychology Today article. Shpancer said men tend to be physically stronger by genetic design; therefore, they rape because they can.

“All of us behave in scripted ways in many areas of our lives, including sex,” Shpancer told the Daily Universe. “Our scripts are shaped in part by biology, in part by society and in part through our own experiences

Acts of sex and violence share the hormone testosterone, and so the two are biologically linked. Primeval men were “rewarded” for aggression by gaining access to women and protecting them from other males. This may have caused sexual aggressive impulses in men to be passed down through generations, according to Shpancer. This does not excuse sexual assault, however, as men have control over these urges.



Social pressure and culture tend to have greater influence over people’s behavior than genetics or biology, according to Shpancer.

He wrote that some men internalize a pervasive social norm that flirting and foreplay lead to intercourse. People hate to go against social norms, according to Shpancer. Therefore, when a woman says, “No,” or “Stop,” these men become angry with the woman rather than questioning their own behavior.

Zoё D. Peterson, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Missouri, examined whether men were more likely to rape or pressure women into sex if the men thought they could get away with it. The researchers also examined whether men who thought their peers would approve or accept such behavior were more likely to engage in rape or sexual coercion — sexual acts obtained through verbal pressure or manipulation.

Peterson’s recent study surveyed 120 heterosexual men between ages 18 and 30. Peterson and her colleagues found those who felt sure they could get away with rape without punishment were more likely to report they used coercive behavior.

There was no significant association between punishment certainty and rape, according to the study. Men who self-reported they raped and those who said they did not rape were both likely to say punishment was uncertain.

Peterson said in the study that men who rape sometimes have antisocial tendencies. Those who are antisocial care less about society’s rules and judgements, Peterson said. Therefore, men who rape could possibly not care about punishment.



Men who perceived their peers approved of sexual aggression reported they engaged in verbally coercive behavior. Peterson said this might be because sexually aggressive men seek out other sexually aggressive men to be part of their peer group. The study author also mentioned men might think their peers accept or approve of sexual aggression when they actually do not

There was less connection between social acceptance and acts of rape than between social acceptance and sexual coercion. Again, Peterson suggested this was because those who rape are sometimes antisocial and don’t care about social acceptance.

Ohio University sociologist Martin D. Schwartz and West Virginia University sociology professor Walter Dekeseredy explored the relationship between social support and sexual aggression in their book titled “Sexual Assault On the College Campus: The Role of Male Peer Support.”

In the book, they said several studies have found that men who have friends or peers who express acceptance of aggression towards women are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior themselves. Some of these men saw violence and danger as part of masculinity, Dekeseredy and Schwartz said.

They also said there was no evidence that mentally ill men are more likely to rape compared to non-mentally ill men.

In order for the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Human Rights & SpecialProsecution Unit (HRSP)to charge sexual assaults,including rape,as torture under U.S.law, it is critical toaddressthe requirement to provethe perpetrator’sspecific intent toinflict severe painor suffering(18U.S. Code §2340).Thismemo provides justificationfor this line of argumentthrough an analysis ofrelevantacademic and legal scholarship.



The literature review surveys researchon perpetrators’ motivations and concludesthattheoriesof sexual assaultas agender-based hate crime, an expression of control, or ademonstrationof powerto a community ofothermenmay berelevant toHRSP’s abilityto prosecute sexual assaults astorture.

Theoriesof Specific IntentIncharging sexual assaults as tortureunder U.S.law,HRSP must provetheperpetrator’s specific intent was to inflict severe mental pain and suffering onthevictimin order to meet the threshold and gravity requirements of the torture statute.Inparticular,18U.S.

“torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of lawspecifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (otherthan pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person withinhis custody or physical control;

“severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused byor resulting from the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physicalpain or suffering; the administration or application, or threatened administration orapplication, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disruptprofoundly the senses or the personality; the threat of imminent death;

or the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death,severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the sensesor personality.”



The psychology of perpetrators of rapehas been studied in detail (Anderson,1997;Malamuth,1981).An analysis of the academic literatureexposes acritical linkbetweenacts of sexual violenceagainst a victim and a perpetrator’sspecific intent, whichis crucial toHRSP’s ability to prosecute for torture.A review of legal, feminist,andpsychologicalscholarshipshowsthatexpertslargelyassume that rape can constitutetorture in the colloquialsense(Baker, 1997)

.Sexual assault, in all its forms,is asevereviolation of women’sautonomy, personhood, andphysical and emotional integrity.Itrepresentsa wayin which menassert andmaintain power advantages over womenbyforcingthem to live with a ubiquitous fear of rape (Griffin, 1979).

Perpetrators ofsexual assault,and the public-at-large,viewsexual assaultalong acomplex spectrum ofheinousness. It is crucial to recognize that allsexual assaultsaredifferent, in terms ofprioritizingofthesexual act,the assertion ofmasculinity,orthe actofdomination(Baker, 1997).All, however, involve severe harm to the victims. Theinternational tribunals regularly conceptualize rape as a form of torture.FromKunarac,KovacandVokovic, (ICTYAppeals Chamber), June 12, 2002, para. 149-151

“[S]omeacts establish per se the suffering of those upon whom they wereinflicted. Rape is ... such an act. ... Sexual violence necessarily gives riseto severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, and in this wayjustifies its characterization as anact of torture. Severe pain or suffering,as required by the definition of the crime of torture, can thus be said to beestablished once rape has been proved, since the act of rape necessarilyimplies such pain or suffering.”

Severalbroadtheories haveemerged in the literature in an effort to understandwhat motivates men (and most perpetrators are men (Wegner, Abbey, Pierce, Pegram,&Woerner, 2015)) to resort to sexualassault andviolence.Studies have been conducted on the range of potential risk factors for the perpetration of sexual abuse(Wegner et al.,2015; Tieger,1981; Malamuth,1981).



Ameta-analyses ofthesestudies revealsmultipledynamicsand pathways involved in the perpetration of sexual assault(Ward&Seigert,2002),andmostleadingsocio-culturaltheoriesruleoutsexualdesireasamajorcausalfactor(Gottschall,2004).In particular,the perpetrator’s specific intent isevinced/supported by the followingkeycategories of theories:


Sexual Assaultas a Gender-Based Hate Crime


Hate crimes areoffencesdriven by personal motivations,which are usuallydiscriminatory (18 U.S. Code §2491;Goldscheid, 1999).Perpetratorsdeployrape-supportive attitudes and sexual assault incident characteristics to justify forcing sex ontheir victims (Wegner et al., 2015)

.Rape-supportive attitudes, including anti-femalebiases,greatly increase the propensity to commit sexual assault with the specific intent ofcausing the victim severe mental or physical pain or suffering(Russell, 1975)..

According to Burt (1980), rape myths are “prejudicial, stereotyped, or falsebeliefs about rape, rape victims, and rapists” (p. 217). Lonsway and Fitzgerald (1994)extended this definition to include “attitudes and beliefs that are generally false but are widely and persistently held, and that serve to deny and justify male sexual aggressionagainst women” (p. 134)..



Common rape supportive attitudes include the following:women say “no” when they mean “yes”;women who dress provocatively,drink alcohol,or go someplace alone with a man are asking to be raped;women can resist a rape if theytry;women falsely accuse men of rape; anda husband cannot rape his wife(Wegner etal., 2015; Basow & Minieri, 2011; Bumby, 1996; Burt, 1980; Lonsway & Fitzgerald,1994; Payne, Lonsway, & Fitzgerald, 1999).

Research has consistently shown a positive relationship between rape-supportiveattitudes and sexual assault perpetration (Abbey et al., 1998; Abbey, McAuslan, Zawacki,Clinton, & Buck, 2001; Loh, Gidycz, Lobo, & Luthra, 2005; Murnen et al., 2002; Tyleret al., 1998)..

Beech and colleagues (2006) interviewed 41 incarcerated rapists in the UnitedKingdom. The transcribed interviews were coded for the five different rape-supportiveimplicit theories identified by Polaschek and Ward (2002). 51% of these convicted rapistsmade comments describing women as sex objects, whose function is to be sexuallyavailable to men at all times; 44% expressed feelings of entitlement,.

assuming that as aman theycould take what they wanted from the woman; 15% said that they were unableto control their sexual urges; and 9% indicated a generally hostile and distrustful view ofwomen, which led them to behave toward women in a hostile way.Analyzed togetherwith another study inthe United States,3both research teams found that incarceratedrapists frequently normalized their actions by blaming the woman or situation for whathappened (Wegner et al., 2015; Beech et al., 2006; Scully & Marolla, 1984).

Sexual assault situations may generate multiple forms of evidence that reflectperpetrators’ gendermotivation, attitudes, and rationalizations of sexual assault.4Casesmeeting the standards of gender-based hate crimes may provide the HRSP withsolidcasesfor prosecuting sexual assault as torture.



Control Theory


Another class of perpetratorsviewsexual assaultas a form of expressing control,anger,or sadism(Baker, 1997)andact withthe specific intent of causing the victimsevere pain or suffering.This hasbeen described as the power hypothesis of rape, whererape is identified not as a crime of sexual passion but as a crime motivated by the desireof a man to exert dominance over a woman(see Brownmiller, 1975;Gottschall,2004).InMalamuth, Linz,

Heavey,Barnes, and Acker’s Confluence Model of sexual aggression,which aims topredict men's conflict with women (1995), ahostile masculinity pathwayisrelated to aninsecure sense of masculinity,as well ashostilitytowards, distrustof, and adesire todominate women

(Malamuthet al., 1995).Beliefsthatexpressions ofpower,forms ofcoercion,and sexual violencegenerallyare“arousing”for women5increasesmen’slikelihood of sexual assault and self-reported willingness to rape (Baker, 1997,p.601; Malamuth,1981; Tieger,1981)

Perpetrator’s likelihood of sexual assault wasstudied by Malamuthet al.’s 10-year follow-up study, where the data collected supportedthe hypothesis that sexual aggressors can be identified by two sets of characteristics,labeled hostile masculinity and impersonal sex.6Self-reported willingness to rape was examined byTieger’s study, which found that 37.2 percentof172 malerespondentsindicated some likelihood of raping ifcertainthey would not be caught.

Examining rapeas anexpression of control,not as a matter of sexuality,is critical to understandingperpetrators’ specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering on their targets.Based onthe findings of these psychological studies,scholars have challengedunderstandings ofrape law tobring greater attention tothe control issues involved(Baker, 1997).HRSP canutilize controltheoriestoarguethat to express control or sadism, perpetrators specificallyintend to inflict severesuffering.



Impressing theCommunityof Men


Men oftenuse sexual violencetodemonstrate their strength,virility,andmasculinity to other men(Baker, 1997). For these perpetrators, sex is instrumental andhaving an audience is criticalfor perpetrators who use their actionsto relate to other men(Groth&Birmbaun,1979).In keeping with the so-called Divide Theory ofrape, menmaycommit sexualassault to establishpower over,to denigrate,orto distinguish themselvesfrom other men.

According to this theory, women are seen as the property ofaninferior group of males(Baker, 1997).By abusing the property of a rivalgroup of men, the perpetratorestablishes his dominance over those men.These tworapetheoriesareparticularlyrelevant in the caseofsectarian orarmed conflict,in whichperpetrators may commitsexual assault with the specific intent of causing thevictim severe pain and suffering

,toexpressa desire focamaraderie,ortodemonstratetheirdominance and controlover otherrivalmen(Baker, 1997).In particular, by making rapes public orforcingcommunitiestowatchthe severe pain inflicted, soldiers seek to demonstrate thesuperiority oftheir team over the local men(Brownmiller, 1975).


Strategic Rape Theory


Strategic rape theory states that rape is a tactic executed by soldiersormilitaryunitto accomplish its strategic objectives (Gottschall, 2004).Thistheorycanbe used tosupporta finding of theperpetrator’s specific intent.One strategic objective could be thedestruction of a community through mass rape and the infliction of severe suffering on itsmembers



.However, it is important to note that strategic rape theory could also be utilizedaspotential argument against perpetrator's specific intentto inflict severe pain, ifrapeisjustified as serving the function of a military tactic.A broader definitionof strategic rapetheoryfrom the UnitedStatesInstitute forPeacestates that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)

is a tool to subjugatepopulations, instill fear, curtail movement and economic activity, stigmatize women,undermine community and family structures, contribute to bonding of perpetratorsthrough the common act of rape, and in some cases, deliberately pollute the bloodline ofthe victimized population (Kelly, 2010).

In line with this definition,which integrates keyelements of the aforementioned three categories of theories (Sexual Assault as a Gender-Based Hate Crime, Control Theory, and Impressing the Community of Men),strategicrape theoryhighlightsthe perpetrator’s specific intent to inflict severe mental or physicalpain or sufferingon theirvictim

Potential Opposing Arguments


In order to refutetheoriesthatmayundermine a finding of the necessaryspecificintentandrespondto challenges thataperpetrator’smotive was“merely”sexualgratification, it is necessary to analyze potentialalternative theories.Sexual gratificationhas been presented as the primary motivation for rapists,rather thana means ofexpressing anger or hostility towards women (Hamilton and Yee, 1990;



Siefert, 1994, p.55).Siefert (1994) describes the “pressure cooker” theory of wartime rape,whichsuggests, in line with the biological determinism theory thatwar rapists are victims ofirresistible biological imperatives,that the“chaos of wartime milieu encourages men tovent their urges to terrible effect”

(Gottschall,2004).

Thisisrefutedbythefeminist


theoryofwartimerape8,whichstatesthatthepressurethatbuildsonmenismisogynistic,notlibidinal,innature.Furthermore,somesoldiersrape in degrees of force far in excessof that required to perpetrate the rape, greatly diminishing the chance of passing on genes(Gottschall, 2004, p. 134), refutingthebiological determinism theoryand strengtheningthe evidence for specific intent.

Hamilton and Yee (1990) describetheirtheory of rapemotivationas instrumental aggression, as compared with thehostility-driven theory.Thestudy finds that greater knowledge about rape trauma and perceptionsof rape as moreaversive were associated with fewer pro-rape attitudes and lower self-reportedlikelihoodof raping9(Hamilton and Yee, 1990)

However,the authors acknowledge that theinstrumental-aggression model of rape need not and, in fact, almost surely does not, applyto all rapists. It is, for example, difficult to reconcile this model with the not infrequentoccurrence of sexual assault involving extreme brutality (Katz andMazur, 1979).Research documents that coercive sexual behavior is correlated with a lack of a socialconscience,consistentwith rape serving as a vehicle to inflict pain upon a victim(Baker,1997)



In terms of other potential theories of rape, evolutionaryor biologicaltheorypurports toprovide an explanation for rape inhumansbased upon rape’s ability toincreasethe “reproductive success”ofmales who rape (Thornhill, 1999).

Needless-to-say, this explanationhas been rejected by feminist academicsand others who arguethatrape is a crimereflecting socially-constructedmaledomination Developmentaltheory positsthatrape-prone men come from harsh developmentalbackgroundsmarked byimpersonal and short-term social relationships(Malamuth andHeilman, 1998). One can imaginedefense counselsinvoking such theoriesin oppositionto specific intentarguments

.

However,a number ofstudiessuggestthat menwho rape are“normal” to the extent that psychologists fail to find evidence ofpsychologicalabnormality (Malamuth and Check, 1985)11. Indeed,male levels of sexual aggression donot correlate with elevated scores on the Psychopathic Deviate scale, and there is a lackof evidence that all or most rapists are objectively depraved



HRSP Prosecution of Sexual Assault as Torture


Inprosecuting sexual assault as torture, the academic literature provides usefulanalysis of the perpetrator’s psychology.In prosecuting cases of sexual assault as torture,itmay be helpfulto avoid monolithic constructionsof rape in order to understandthedifferent “motivations” underlying the use ofsexualized violence (Baker, 1997

U.S.states differ on how to classify various types of rape andthe typesof forceorthreats,thedefendant’s state of mind,the forms ofmanipulationandcoercion, andthedegrees ofconsent or lack thereofarenecessary fora sexualact to be considered criminal (Baker575).Further, the admissibility of prior act evidence in cases of sexual assault underU.S.law (Rule 413) could potentially be used to strengthen justification that perpetrators ofsexual assault commit the offence with thespecific intent to inflict severe pain orsuffering(Baker, 1997).

Perpetrators who can justify their behaviors are at increased riskfor future perpetration(Wegner et al., 2015);hence,it is crucial for HRSP to prosecuteoffenders and reduce repeat perpetrationof sexual assault.Ultimately, the perpetrators ofrape inducewithin a victim andherfamilydeepchronic psychological woundsandsevere mental anguish(ICCExpertsReport, 2014).Through prosecution of sexual assaultas torture,HRSPwieldsa powerful meansofdefendingsurvivorsandbringingperpetrators to justice


M I Ro


photos by pixabay.com

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