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“Real Men, Real Crimes: The Underreported Sexual Abuse Of Boys”

An article from Medical Daily featuring 1in6 and our Canadian partner, The Men’s Project.

Real Men, Real Crimes: The Underreported Sexual Abuse Of Boys
By Susan Scutti
June 19, 2015

Imagine yourself 6 years old once again and then try and picture your former (tiny) self within the world.

At that very young age, Rick Goodwin was lured by a construction worker into a vacant house and sexually assaulted there. As his profile reads, Goodwin just “somehow knew that he could not tell his parents.” He did, then, what he believed a boy is supposed to do and kept quiet, burying the hurt as deep as he could. Though he maintained good grades in school, he became involved with drugs, yet instead of an unchecked downward spiral, his drug use surprisingly led to epiphany: a college acid trip triggered memories of the abuse and from there he sought counseling. Today Goodwin is a therapist who runs the Men’s Project, a free-standing clinic treating male survivors in Ottawa.

Far too automatically, people associate childhood sexual abuse with girls yet boys suffer as well. Quite possibly, they do so in greater numbers than you might expect.

The Numbers

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey notes “11.7 percent of men have experienced unwanted sexual contact.”  Based on cited research, the website 1in6 reports “16 percent of males were sexually abused by the age of 18.” A report from the Crimes Against Children Research Center reports five to 10 percent of adult men recall an incident of childhood sexual abuse or assault. There are clear discrepancies here, certainly in part due to how you might describe sexual abuse.

“We use the word unwanted in our mission statements, since many men cannot get their arms around the fact that they were abused, but they can get their arms around unwanted,” Steve LePore, founder and executive director of 1in6, told Medical Daily. In his organization’s mission statement, these experiences are referred to as unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood.” As he further explains, this covers a range of experiences, including exposure to pornography, touching, and assault.

Experts say such crimes against boys are difficult to determine primarily because they often go underreported.

“Men have a very difficult time talking about it,” LePore said. “Even after very high profile cases, like Sandusky, it’s still difficult for men to look at and work on this issue.” LePore is referring to Jerry Sandusky, the convicted serial child molester and retired football coach.

“No man wants to say they were abused,” LePore said. “That’s just how we’re hard-wired, it’s part of the masculine code.”

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