On the last track, we discussed the condition of rape
trauma syndrome in young male clients and its stages: acute and long-term.
this track, we will examine the ways in which social pressures affect a sexually
abused boy's development: gender role identity, double standard, and age-disparate heterosexual abuse.
Three Effects of Social Pressure on Development
Effect #1 - Gender Expectations
know, a small sense of gender identity can become established at the age of three.
Later on, the stereotyped roles of society soon begin to make an impression on
the mind of a child. What is expected of both males and females form from those
learned sex and gender roles.
For instance, in our culture, males are considered
to have a greater sexual drive, to masturbate more, to be more knowledgeable about
and experienced with sex, to be more sexually active at a younger age, and to
be the initiator of sexual contact. The expression of a "real man" suggests
one that has frequent sexual encounters.
Effect #2 - Double Standards
the other end of the spectrum, girls are expected to be more passive in their
sexual relationships. For instance, a girl caught having sex outside of her established
relationship is labeled "a slut". As you know, this is one of the common
examples of this double standard society has placed on males and females.
idiom of "boys will be boys" gives another example of this. Boys who
are considered effeminate in any way are quickly ostracized or they're behavior
is modified by parents or authority figures. However, a girl who is a tomboy is
more accepted and said to be "just one of the guys". Also, consider
that male masculinity is strongly linked to sexual prowess, whereas, say, in girls,
femininity is linked to other things such as verbal usage and physical beauty.
This strong sense of "being masculine" can confuse sexually abused boys
and cause a great fear of losing their sexual identity. Also, the double standard
that society has placed on male and females can greatly confuse the sexually abused
Stephen, age 13, was abused by his father's friend while
they were on a hunting trip together. Stephen, who always associated hunting and
guns with masculinity, now cannot see the connection because he associates it
with his abuse. Stephen also feels ashamed about being aroused by the abuse, even
though he also feels victimized.
Stephen stated, "I always used to like girls,
y'know, before it happened. But now, I don't really have those feelings for girls
as much as I used to. Now, I have these feelings for my dad's friend that are
really opposite. Like, I hate him but I also remember how it felt when he did
that stuff to me and some of it felt good." I asked him if he felt that way
about any of his other male friends. Stephen responded, "No, not at all."
As you can see, Stephen's concerns over his sexuality only related to the abuse
itself, not some everlasting affect on his masculinity. For a technique on addressing
a sexual abuse client's confusion over sexuality, refer to track 6.
- Abuse from an Older Female
Another societal obstacle to the treatment of
sexually abused boys is in the case in which a young boy is abused by an older
woman. Many times, this is not viewed with the same stigma as when a much older
male abuses a younger female. It is rightfully disdainful and horrifying that
an older man would take advantage of a young girl.
However, in the same situation
only with the genders reversed, this can be viewed as an early introduction to
manhood. This could possibly negate the anxiety that sexually abused boys have
in common with abused girls. Even further, he may become an object of jealousy from his peers and older males. This could confuse his predicament even more.
To correct this, in the clinical word, the term sexual misuse has been used to
describe sexual behaviors between children and adults. Brassard describes sexual
misuse as "an experience that interferes with, or has the potential for interfering
with a child's healthy development".
Thirteen year old
David was sexually abused by his female teacher during detention one day. When
he told his closest friend, Nathan, he reacted, not with shock, but with respect.
Nathan said, "Dude, you're a man now." However, David didn't feel that
he was any more mature than he had been. In fact, he felt uncomfortable, depressed,
David stated, "I don't get it. I wasn't raped by my uncle or
anything. I mean, she was a girl, and I should have liked it. I guess it really
wasn't that big of a deal."
Making a Floor Plan
To help David understand that his boundaries
had been violated and that to minimize the abuse would not make it go away, I
asked him and the rest of his therapy group to try the "Making a Floor Plan".
-- Step # 1 - First, I asked all the boys to close their eyes and
choose one particular molestation memory to think about: maybe the most upsetting
memory, the first time, or the place where it happened most often.
-- Step # 2 - I then told
them to picture the place in his mind with as much detail as he could remember.
-- Step # 3 - I then instructed them to make a floor plan of the place in which the specific
-- Step # 4 - After they were all finished, I asked them to share their floor
plan with the rest of the group and encouraged them to talk about the details
of the abuse. By sharing the details, they can more closely relate their emotions
to the abuse.
David made a floor plan of his classroom. He then related, "She
was on top of me and touching me on the crotch." I asked David how he felt
about this abuse now that he could look back on it. He said, "I felt used."
By becoming more vocal and frank about the abuse, David could more honestly talk
about his emotions.
On this track, we discussed the ways in
which social pressures affect a sexually abused boy's development: gender role
identity, double standard, and age-disparate heterosexual abuse.
the next track, we will examine the way that the four types of environments can
affect sexually abused boys: the evasive environment; the environmental vacuum;
the seductive environment; and the overtly sexual environment.
What are the three social pressures that affect a sexually abused boy's
development? To select and enter your answer go to .