Originally posted on July 21, 2013
One of the common reactions to news about sexual violence against boys is that it harms boys less than it harms girls. This is particularly true when the abuser is female. The common opinion is that boys are more resilient because they are male. People also believe that boys always desire sex from women, therefore any sexual activity from women is always acceptable. Should a boy refuse the sex or dislike it, people will assume he is gay. Should a boy abused by men get an erection, ejaculate during sexual abuse, continue to engage in any activity with the male abuser, people will assume he is gay.
This idea that boys experience less harm leads to situations where abusers, particularly female abusers, receive less prison time for their actions. Roger Sherman noted this is in an op-ed:
Our societal perception frequently does not recognize this when it comes to women abusing boys. In this regard, a very important discussion was presented in a recent Statesman article between the Ada County prosecutor and the judge in a case regarding the abuse of eight teenage boys by a 35-year-old mother in Kuna.
According to the article, the judge disagreed with the prosecutor, who argued that female perpetrators are “treated more leniently than men and that boys (abused by women) are somehow considered ‘lucky.'” The judge concluded that “there is a difference” between boys abused by women and girls abused by men. “I have a problem articulating what the difference is,” he said.
Unfortunately, this perception that there is a difference can lead to irreparable harm for male victims. According to the authors of an authoritative study reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, sexual abuse significantly increases the risk of developing health and social problems – such as drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, and marital strife – in both men and women. A history of suicide attempts was more than twice as likely among both male and female victims as among non-victims.