International Journal of Coercion, Abuse, and Manipulation (IJCAM)

Vol. 3 (2022). First published August 30, 2022.

DOI: https://doi/10.54208/1000/0003/005

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Alone and Not Alone: Implications for Clinicians Working with Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

James M. Smith, Adrian S. Warren, and Brooks Bastian-Hanks

Abstract

The prevalence of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) makes it highly likely that mental health professionals will provide therapy services to survivors, including adult, cisgender men, who face unique barriers in disclosing the sexual abuse they suffered. This article is written to help clinicians understand these unique barriers and what mental health professionals can do to support disclosure. Using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA), we studied the lived experiences of three adult, cisgender men who survived CSA but waited until adulthood to disclose to a mental health professional the abuse they suffered. Some of the themes that emerged from their disclosures were their similar sense of feeling isolated as a result of the experience yet connected with others who have had similar experiences; guilt feelings about and sense of responsibility for how disclosure affected their loved ones and family members; and the disempowerment associated with having family members and clinicians act on their disclosure in ways the survivors did not want. Implications for clinicians include a focus on the relational nature of the therapy and the importance of respecting the client’s autonomy, among others.