Young Men Surviving Child Sexual Abuse: Research Stories and Lessons for Therapeutic Practice

Young Men Surviving Child Sexual Abuse: Research Stories and Lessons for Therapeutic Practice

Young Men Surviving Child Sexual Abuse: Research Stories and Lessons for Therapeutic Practice

Young Men Surviving Child Sexual Abuse: Research Stories and Lessons for Therapeutic Practice


Young Men Surviving Child Sexual Abuse examines a largely neglected area in child protection: the sexual abuse of boys. Andrew Durham, a consultant social work practitioner, describes his original research undertaken with young men close to or in the midst of adolescence. The book features extensive narrative, as the life story approach taken allows the young men to theorise their own experience and to understand how and why child sexual abuse has had a harmful and long lasting impact on their day-to-day lives. Alongside the research stories the author presents a theoretical framework for understanding male sexual abuse, as well as a wide range of accessible practice materials. This book will be invaluable to those working with children and young people who are recovering from child sexual abuse.


The enforcement of silence has been and remains the most potent weapon of abusers, both individually and collectively. Breaking the silence has likewise been seen as the most vital step towards bringing about change and a safer environment. (Nelson, 2000, p. 394)

The sexual offences against children that this book is about are not only among the most serious and potentially harmful experiences that children can have but the most hidden as well. They are surrounded by a wall of enforced secrecy and silence that generates shame for victims and compounds the abuse they have experienced. To be abused is bad enough; to feel unable safely to reveal this, or to try to do so and not be believed, causes unimaginable damage. This also leaves innumerable children and young people to find their own strategies for survival, without access to any help and support and with lifelong implications for them.

Despite incontrovertible knowledge about the scale and impact of child sexual abuse and its relationship with other forms of violence and abuse against women and children, it has proved difficult to breach the wall of silence. Recent evidence about Internet pornography reveals staggering levels of child sexual abuse, where very few victims are able to report offences and even fewer men who offend are successfully prosecuted.

Two interrelated dimensions are significant in maintaining the hidden nature of child sexual abuse. The first is that this is a major objective of men who perpetrate child sexual abuse and an inherent aspect of the ways in which they target and groom potential victims. High levels of planning and organisation are involved to abuse, and bribes, threats and coercion are used to ensure both compliance and secrecy from children, who are likely already to be socially disadvantaged. When they are apprehended, a characteristic aspect of the accounts of perpetrators is denial and minimisation in terms of the extent and the effects of their offending. The pressure on potential child witnesses is immense, and the evidential demands of the criminal justice system frequently leave them feeling even more disempowered.

The second, and inextricably connected to the first, is a broader social context that mirrors and reinforces the denial and minimisation of offences that challenge so much that is taken for granted about the nature of relationships between men, women, and children. Time and again the extent and scale of sexual offences, together with the apparent ordinariness of the men who perpetrate them . . .

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