How do you know if a man has been sexually abused?


Very often when a spouse friend or family member has suffered a form of sexual abuse, whether as a child or an adult, they are often very reluctant to share such experiences with anyone due to the traumatic nature of the event as well as the preconceived negative responses they feel will follow their disclosure. It is of utmost importance to help this individual to talk about their experience and voice their story, burying and repressing an event does nothing but create more and more pain.

Below are some signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect there has been a sexual abuse surrounding your loved one – this can help bring to the surface the traumatic event in order to handle problems arising and to recover successfully.

Here are the signs to look out for;

Turning OFF Emotion

When a child or an adult is sexually abused by a person he has developed trust in, he will begin to learn that intimacy is dangerous and attachment to others is harmful. This is a learnt response developed from the sexual abusive encounter. What you may notice in your partner, friend or relative is the inability to express emotion in situations that call for the expression of an emotion. If for example this person was a joy to be around, making jokes and having a good time before and is now reluctant to socialise, frustrated and negative, this may well be a sign of sexual abuse.

Loss Of Sexual Interest

Many survivors of male sexual abuse lose interest in sex or any sexual act after an abusive sexual incident. At times during sex, the survivor may emotionally withdraw and become numb to the act, allowing it to pass by, disinterested and zoned out, as if he weren’t even there. Becoming disinterested in sex is a symptom of male sexual abuse, yet it is also a coping mechanism used to enable the victim to disconnect emotionally to get through the abuse. Another warning sign is the individual’s discomfort in being touched, even that of a gentle hug.  Regard this as a sign but do not get frustrated with your partner, remember that there is a reason for their behavior.

Sexual Impulses

A third sign to look out for, in opposition to the point above, is that instead of a victim withdrawing from sexual encounters and becoming emotionally distant, they display behavior that manifest themselves in sexual addictions such as looking at pornography, promiscuity and extreme fetishism, not arousing interest before the abuse.

Constantly Aware & Alert

A man who becomes unusually overprotective of his son or daughter may be expressing what he wishes a parent would have done for him as a child. He has in his mind’s eye that this event may happen to one of his children and will take every step imaginable to prevent this abuse. This behavior may intensify to larger proportions when the child approaches the age the victim was himself sexually abused. Some examples include; disallowing his children to visit their friend’s homes, birthday parties without his supervision, sleep over’s forbidden, walking their child into their school class rooms in the morning, reluctant to allow them to walk in alone at the gate and constantly hindering their child’s social development.

Once the sexual abuse comes to the surface and is now out in the open, the best thing you could do for your partner or friend is to encourage him to get help. Individual and group therapy are very effective in aiding the recovery of male sexual abuse. If he feels reluctant to attend and isn’t ready, support him and accept his decision, remind him that when he is ready, you will support him.

The journey of helping your loved one recover can be a difficult hill to climb. At any time if you feel exhausted, overwhelmed or stressed, it is important to take good care of ‘you’ too. Finding your own therapist, joining a support group, or even attending the same support group with your loved one is a great step in keeping yourself in check.


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