Living with the Aftermath of Male Child Sexual Abuse
Coveny, D. (2017). Living with the Aftermath of Male Child Sexual Abuse (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11970
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11970
Child sexual abuse (CSA) in boys has been shown to have long lasting and devastating effects on men's lives. Negative health outcomes such as anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, poor social skills, destructive lifestyles, and mistrust towards others are only a few of the reported after-effects. Research of CSA is largely focused on girls and women, leaving a relative shortage on men. This qualitative study attempts to add to the dearth of literature in this field by reporting findings from narrative interviews with men who were sexually abused as children. The aim was to investigate how men reconciled their early experiences of CSA with everyday life and their relationships with others. Seven participants of New Zealand European and one participant of Māori descent participated in a loosely structured conversational interview. The study was guided by narrative theory and social constructionist epistemology using thematic narrative analysis to interpret the data. The findings are discussed within seven overarching themes: Shame, guilt, and lost self-identities illustrates how survivors of CSA can become very isolated due to their internalised feelings of inferiority and self-blame. The participants' inability to share their experiences alienated them from others as much as themselves, which ultimately affected their sense of belonging. CSA instilled feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy as well as it fostered low self-esteem and led to the loss of their self-identity. Anger and hurt - a kind of death/an empty shell highlights the expression of heightened anger resulting from their experiences and isolation. Participants appeared confused, lost and empty without aspirations or hopes for the future. It describes a long process of regaining meaning in life, which some men found in fatherhood despite its challenges. Escaping the pain describes the men's emotional and physical turmoil, which triggered attempts to forget past events. Many participants engaged in violence and substance use, tried to become someone else, or end their life. Damage boils over talks about the participants' memories of their CSA experiences and the associated effects on their daily lives. It demonstrates how CSA can affect men's emotional stability and reactions when situations become too distressing. Mistrust - a place of safety summarises participants' feelings of mistrust towards others and their difficulty to accept forms of authority. It highlights CSA's potential aftermath in regards to interpersonal and romantic relationships as well as over protectiveness towards children. Social norms and barriers to disclosure discusses the difficulties surrounding disclosure of CSA, spanning both childhood and adulthood. Further, it shows how social norms such as hegemonic masculinity can influence outcomes. From missed opportunities to healing describes regrets about perceived undeveloped talents, educational opportunities, or loss of family. The theme shows how coping mechanisms helped to navigate life and describes the benefits of counselling.
The University of Waikato
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