We have lots of resources here for you, and some good options for where to start.
Maybe you’re just beginning to learn about how sexual experiences in childhood could be having negative effects on a man you care about. Or how you can best support him. Maybe you’ve been dealing with these issues for years, and are wondering how this website could be useful to you. Maybe something in between.
Whatever your situation, we have resources for you. But first, especially if you’re just beginning to deal with this, our most important advice: take care of yourself, and don’t push him.
Why focus on yourself, not just on him and his needs? The better you take care of yourself, the more effectively you can support him. You’ll be more able to take a break when you’re getting overwhelmed, to manage feelings like anger and sadness, and to reach out for help when you need it. You’ll also be a model of self-care for him, and more likely to stick with him (in a way that’s healthy for you), even in the hardest times.
Pacing yourself is important too. You can learn a lot pretty quickly, from this website and others, and some excellent books we recommend. But you don’t have to figure out everything right away. If that’s a pressure you feel, we totally understand. We also know that, if you don’t pace yourself, going full steam ahead can create new problems.
Why not push him? When we feel great pressure to push others to get help, we’re usually responding more to our own (difficult to tolerate) feelings than to the other person’s needs. And the other person will sense this, resist and push back. Then it becomes a struggle that helps neither person, especially the one who really could benefit from getting some help.
Before trying to share what you learn with the man you’re concerned about, take some time to “digest” it for yourself. Take some time to sort through your own feelings, beliefs, and needs. And take some time to think about the most effective way to talk with him.
Important: Taking care of yourself and not pushing him does not mean neglecting either of your needs, or that meeting your needs must depend on his pace.
As you focus on taking care of yourself, you may need to let him know (without threats or ultimatums) that, while you respect his needs and pace, your needs are equally important and you have your own pace, including for coming to decisions about your relationship with him.
Here are our recommendations, depending on your situation, for where to start on this site:
- If you’re wondering whether one or more sexual experiences in his childhood or adolescence are related to some of his current problems or struggles, or may have been “sexual abuse,” then you may want to start with Definitions, Labels, and Sorting It Out For Himself.
- If you’re feeling a lot of pressure to find help for a man you care about, or feel like you could use some advice and help yourself, we recommend starting with Finding Help.
- If you’re worried that you may be misunderstanding him and his experience because of myths we’ve all absorbed about the sexual abuse of boys and its lasting effects in men, we recommend Myths & Facts.
- If you want to learn about other men just beginning to address the issue, or read words of hope from some who are healing or have healed, you may want to start with Other Guys Like Him.
- If you’re feeling down or hopeless – about the problems he’s experiencing, about his ability to sort things out, make changes, or ever be happy – then you may want to start with Reasons for Hope.
- If you have lots of questions about the effects of unwanted or abusive childhood sexual experiences, then you may want to go straight to Get Info, especially Common Questions and Online Readings.
Please keep in mind that, as someone who cares about a man who’s had such experiences, you are not alone. Researchers estimate that 1 in 6 men have experienced unwanted or abusive sexual experiences before age 18. And this is a low estimate, of experiences involving physical contact, though we know that noncontact experiences can have lasting negative effects too.