Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

May 17, 2001

Study hopes to shed light on male childhood sexual abuse

Men who were victims of sexual abuse as children and/or their partners are being sought for a new groundbreaking study by a University of Guelph professor and graduate student.

Judith Myers-Avis, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition and graduate student Ellen Maniago hope to interview men who are survivors of one or more incidents of childhood sexual abuse. The researchers are also interested in speaking to current or former partners of male survivors.

“We want to know whether and how this abuse has affected men’s intimate relationships,” Maniago said. “We want to talk to men about their experiences, how they have coped and the impact it has had on those closest to them, which is why we are also interested in interviewing partners.”

Extensive studies have been done on female survivors of childhood sexual abuse and a few of those studies have included men whose female partners were victims of abuse. But much less is known about the effect of child sexual abuse on men, and there have been no research studies that have asked women about their experiences in relationships with male survivors. “Although we expect that in many ways the experiences of male and female survivors may be similar, we also expect we may find important differences resulting from differences in the socialization and expectations of men and women,” Myers-Avis said. “There are added taboos and challenges for men, because being sexually abused goes against societal definitions of masculinity, often raising a man’s fears about his adequacy and manhood.”

Maniago added “I think the ways boys and men are socialized can create obstacles to talking about childhood sexual abuse. Men may feel ashamed of this experience and want to forget it ever happened, or they may feel it was their fault and they should have been able to stop it.”

The researchers plan to conduct confidential, one-and-a-half to two-hour taped interviews in Guelph and the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge region, although they will also accommodate people from other areas. Interested participants may also receive copies of the study’s findings. The interviews will consist of a series of questions centred around how the men and their partners perceive the abuse may have affected their intimate relationships, including their ideas about emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy and ability to trust. “We hope to talk to them about the challenges they faced and how they overcome them,” Myers-Avis said. “We want to learn from their experiences. Understanding what these men faced, and their current and future needs, can help us to know how to better serve other survivors through therapy.”

A confidential voice-messaging system has been arranged for the study. People who are interested in taking part, or receiving additional information may call (519) 570-5354 or toll free, 1-866-293-3303.

For more information, contact:
Prof. Judith Myers-Avis
Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 3970

For media questions, contact: Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 3338.

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