Get Information
Myths And Facts

Many people have absorbed the myths to some extent. Below, we outline the myths and the facts—to encourage understanding and healing.

MYTH 1. Boys can’t be sexually abused.

FACT: Boys and men can be sexually used or abused, and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are.


MYTH 2. It was his fault, especially if he got aroused.

FACT: If a boy liked the attention he was getting, or got sexually aroused during the abuse, or even sometimes wanted the attention or sexual contact, this does not mean he wanted or liked being manipulated or abused, or that any part of what happened, in any way, was his responsibility or fault.


MYTH 3. Sexual abuse is less harmful to boys than girls

FACT: Sexual abuse and assault harms boys/men and girls/women in ways that are similar and different, but equally harmful.


MYTH 4. Only gay men sexually abuse

FACT: Boys can be sexually abused by both straight and gay men and women. Sexual abuse is the result of abusive behavior that takes advantage of a child’s vulnerability and is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the abusive person.


MYTH 5. Being a male survivor means you’re gay

FACT: Whether he is gay, straight or bisexual, a boy’s sexual orientation is neither the cause nor the result of sexual abuse. By focusing on the abusive nature of sexual abuse rather than the sexual aspects of the interaction, it becomes easier to understand that sexual abuse has nothing to do with a boy’s sexual orientation.


MYTH 6. Males abused by females “got lucky”

FACT: Girls and women can sexually abuse or assault boys and men. The boys and men are not “lucky”, but exploited and harmed.


MYTH 7. Male survivors will abuse others

FACT: Most boys and men who are sexually abused or assaulted will not go on to sexually abuse or assault others.





MYTH 1. Boys can’t be sexually abused.

Everyone absorbs the myth that males aren’t victims, to some extent. It’s central to masculine gender socialization, and boys pick up on it very early in life. This myth implies that a boy or man who has been sexually used or abused will never be a “real man.” Our society expects males to be able to protect themselves. Successful men are depicted as never being vulnerable, either physically or emotionally. (See How It Can Be Different for Men and How Being Male Can Make It Hard to Heal.)

Whether you agree with that definition of masculinity or not, boys are not men. They are children. They are weaker and more vulnerable than those who sexually abuse or exploit them – who use their greater size, strength and knowledge to manipulate or coerce boys into unwanted sexual experiences and staying silent. This is usually done from a position of authority (e.g., coach, teacher, religious leader) or status (e.g. older cousin, admired athlete, social leader), using whatever means are available to reduce resistance, such as attention, special privileges, money or other gifts, promises or bribes, even outright threats.

What happens to any of us as children does not need to define us as adults or men. It is important to remember that 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18 (see The 1 in 6 Statistic), and that those boys can grow up to be strong, powerful, courageous and healthy men. Examples are found in our Male Survivor Stories section, and there are many others out there.