Differences Between Adult Male and Female Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

By Peter Dimock, LICSW

  • Males are sexually abused less often than females.
  • Males are sexually abused more often by other males; however, more recent studies indicate increased reporting of abuse by females.
  • Males are more often abused by someone outside the family who is known to them and who is frequently younger than abusers of females (baby-sitters, parental friend, extended relative, etc.).
  • Males are less likely to report the abuse.
  • Males are less likely to identify the abuse as abuse or as harmful to them.  Males generally report experiencing the abuse more positively than females especially if perpetrated by a female.
  • A male may question his identity and sexual preference more frequently.
  • Males are more likely to act out the sexual abuse aggressively and report more frequently than females a desire to hurt others.
  • Males are more likely to view themselves and be viewed by others as responsible for the abuse.
  • Males are less likely to seek assistance for the sexual abuse; however, male sexual abuse victims are more likely than males who have not been abused to have sought psychological help for other problems.
  • Males are more likely than females to have sexual fantasies about children and desires to engage in sexual activities with a child.
  • Males experience more general psychological, physical and behavioral symptoms than females who tend to be more depressed.
  • Males have been shown in studies to be more vulnerable to physiological and psychological dysfunction than females in stressful situations such as family discord, bereavement, divorce, etc.  A logical extension of this would support the hypothesis that they may be more affected by sexual abuse than females yet less likely to acknowledge the abuse or seek help.


For more information on “Invisible Victims: The Diversity of Male Survivors” please contact:

Dave Shannon
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center