Male Sexual Abuse: Closeted No More

Male Sexual Abuse: Closeted No More

Shrouded in the closet for far too long, Male Sexual Abuse is as much prevalent and an undeniable truth as female sexual abuse.

Similar guilt and shame as experienced by the victims of the Ormond Sexual Abuse Scandal, prohibits them from owning up to it but it’s high time we pulled it out from the closet and brought it into routine conversations.


Thrusting the issue out into the open, recently, is the news about former boys’ football coach and Newcastle United coaching assistant George Ormond who has been found guilty of committing 36 counts of sexual abuse against 18 victims over a 24-year period between 1973 and 1997.

Ormond, who was described as a “predatory pedophile” by Northumbria police, committed the crimes when he was a prominent coach at the boys’ club from 1973, and from 1993 to 1997, when he was assisting with Newcastle United’s youth coaching.

As is generally the case, victims, some of whom broke down while on the witness stand, all said they did not tell anybody for years about the abuse they had suffered. Many said they had felt ashamed and embarrassed, and were worried they would be ridiculed and not believed. They said they were intimidated by the power and influence Ormond wielded on their prospects of a career in professional football.

One victim said Ormond warned him saying, “I’ve got your dreams in my hand. If you say anything, I will crush them.”

Derek Bell: The One Who Opened The Can of Worms

Derek Bell was the first victim to waive his right to anonymity and come forward exposing Coach Ormond. Setting an example for others, after which many more came forward to testify about the similar harrowing experiences that they have undergone.

Ormond used his position of trust with young men who had aspirations and dreams of footballing success and careers, and he used that hold as a ‘kingmaker’ to allow him further access to more victims to abuse them.

Bell had first faced abuse by Ormond way back in the 70s when he played for the boys’ club but confided in a physiotherapist somewhere around 1997. It was the physio who then went to the police to report the abuse, but the North Umbria police failed in their duties to thoroughly investigate the case as Bell chose to remain anonymous and not file a formal complaint.

The story is almost always the same with other sexual predators as well, be they pedophiles or not.

The WHO studied male sexual abuse the world over and their observations are as follows:

Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys:

Sexual violence against men and boys is a significant problem. With the exception of childhood sexual abuse, though, it is one that has largely been neglected in research. Rape and other forms of sexual coercion directed against men and boys take place in a variety of settings, including in the home, the workplace, schools, on the streets, in the military and during war, as well as in prisons and police custody.

In prisons, forced sex can occur among inmates to establish hierarchies of respect and discipline. Sexual violence by prison officials, police and soldiers is also widely reported in many countries. Such violence may take the form of prisoners being forced to have sex with others as a form of ‘‘entertainment’’, or to provide sex for the officers or officials in command. Elsewhere, men who have sex with other men may be ‘‘punished’’, by rape, for their behaviour which is perceived to transgress social norms.

The Extent of the Problem:

Studies conducted mostly in developed countries indicate that 5–10% of men report a history of childhood sexual abuse. In a few population-based studies conducted with adolescents in developing countries, the percentage of males reporting ever having been the victim of a sexual assault ranges from 3.6% in Namibia and 13.4% in the United Republic of Tanzania to 20% in Peru. Studies from both industrialised and developing countries also reveal that forced first intercourse is not rare.

Unfortunately, there are few reliable statistics on the number of boys and men raped in settings such as schools, prisons and refugee camps. Most experts believe that official statistics vastly under-represent the number of male rape victims.

The evidence available suggests that males may be even less likely than female victims to report an assault to the authorities. There are a variety of reasons why male rape is underreported, including shame, guilt and fear of not being believed or of being denounced for what has occurred. Myths and strong prejudices surrounding male sexuality also prevent men from coming forward.

Consequences of Sexual Violence:

As is the case with female victims of sexual assault, research suggests that male victims are likely to suffer from a range of psychological consequences, both in the immediate period after the assault and over the longer term. These include guilt, anger, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual dysfunction, somatic complaints, sleep disturbances, withdrawal from relationships and attempted suicide. In addition to these reactions, studies of adolescent males have also found an association between suffering rape and substance abuse, violent behaviour, stealing and absenteeism from school.

Prevention and Policy Responses:

Prevention and policy responses to sexual violence against men need to be based on an understanding of the problem, its causes and the circumstances in which it occurs.

In many countries the phenomenon is not adequately addressed in legislation. In addition, male rape is frequently not treated as an equal offence with rape of women. Many of the considerations relating to support for women who have been raped — including an understanding of the healing process, the most urgent needs following an assault and the effectiveness of support services — are also relevant for men.

Some countries have progressed in their response to male sexual assault, providing special telephone hotlines, counselling, support groups and other services for male victims. In many places, though, such services are either not available or else are very limited — for instance, focusing primarily on women, with few, if any, counsellors on hand who are experienced in discussing problems with male victims.

In most countries, there is much to be done before the issue of sexual violence against men and boys can be properly acknowledged and discussed, free of denial or shame. Such a necessary development, though, will enable more comprehensive prevention measures and better support for the victims to be implemented.

It is high time we brought this discussion to the table and made it part of sexual education curriculum in schools.

And parents! Please have open discussions about sexual predators with not just your daughters but your sons as well.

Lets kick the ‘Ormonds’ of the world in the balls.

Written by: Delshad Master


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