Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault: Their Experiences

4. Conclusion

This study represents one of the few in Canada to examine in depth the experiences of male CSA and ASA survivors. The debilitating emotional and psychological impacts on the survivors and the important role that support services played in their recovery were both highlighted in the findings; these findings suggest the need to raise awareness and to address myths and stigma in communities so that children of today and tomorrow do not experience the pain and suffering expressed by all of the participants.

Of the participants in this study who experienced CSA, one of the top reasons for not reporting it to police was shame. While the shame and stigma of male CSA and ASA must be addressed with criminal justice professionals and also the public, these must also be addressed with survivors themselves. This is where the "safe haven," such as a centre dedicated to working with male survivors, can play a pivotal role; men know that even while sitting in the waiting area, everyone understands what they are going through and there is no judgment. There are many models of delivery for support services; participants in this study highlighted the need for more services that are specifically designed for men, taking into consideration their experiences and needs.    

Improving survivors' knowledge regarding the criminal justice system is essential to ensure that individuals know they have options and the possible results from choosing different options. In addition, it is important that survivors have realistic expectations of the criminal justice system; the process can be long with many delays; giving testimony and being cross-examined by defence counsel can be very difficult; an acquittal is one possible outcome of a trial; and if there is a conviction, the sentence may not seem appropriate. Those who did report and went through the entire process should be commended for their strength and perseverance.

This study confirms findings in previous studies in terms of effects of male CSA and ASA, reporting practices, coping strategies and support services. It also adds in-depth insights of the experiences of men who have been able to access support services. All those interviewed were pleased to give their time and hoped that their experiences would make a difference for other boys and men who have had similar experiences. Since these interviews took place, Canadians' awareness has increased as a result of the Cornwall Inquiry Footnote 9 and several high profile cases Footnote 10. There continues to be few services specifically for men across the country, Footnote 11 but awareness about the prevalence and nature of male CSA and ASA is increasing in both the public realm, as well as amongst criminal justice professionals, policy and decision makers Footnote 12 . More remains to be done and it is hoped that this study has contributed to society's understanding of male sexual abuse and assault.