The Multidimensionality of Sexual Abuse, Rape, & Incest


This article was written partly in response to May's account of experiencing sexual pleasure during a sexual assault that occurred when she was seven years of age. It predominately addresses sexual abuse from a "sexual" perspective. Sex should be a positive aspect of our lives since by its nature it is so. As a result, this article may conflict somewhat with social and legal perspectives of sexual abuse. These perspectives often leave out the individual. It is not the intent of this article to support or otherwise condone sexual abuse or inappropriate sex of any kind. These activities are illegal for just and valid reasons.

Woman in Emotional Contemplation

The information presented below applies equally to boys and young men, though the victim is assumed to be female in the wording of the article. There are perhaps at least two ways in which sexual abuse may affect a male in Western society that are not addressed below. In our society boys and men are expected to be openly and actively sexual; the complete opposite of girls and women. Many believe boys and men would never refuse a sexual experience. How can they be sexually abused if a "normal" boy or man would never turn down a sexual experience? Society also assumes no girl/women would be more sexually, physically, and/or emotionally aggressive than a boy/man. This overlooks the need for consent and appropriate emotional and sexual development regardless of gender.

Another way in which the experience may differ for boys and young men is that their abuse is more likely to involve same sex sexual contact, homosexuality, than sexual abuse experienced by a girl/woman. Society appears to condemn homosexuality to a greater degree than sexual abuse, which may result in significant emotional turmoil for the boy or teen who experiences sexual arousal and orgasm. Those who "consent" to these sexual experiences, perhaps being too young to know society's views on the subject, may find themselves needlessly questioning their sexual orientation. While less talked about, the sexual abuse of boys and young men is equally harmful to them as it is to girls and young women.

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