Crimes we share aren't cinematic. On a broad scale, 9-11 and genocide are true crimes against people. How do we describe to children, that the reality of life is not always fables and fantasy without scaring them too much?
Anyone responsible for raising a boy can not afford to bury his/her head in optimism. Denial did not protect the United States from 9-11, nor will it protect your son from a pedophile.
Helpful resources for men:
Crimes against boys bring emotional challenge from a society that does not discuss male sexuality. However, society's ignorance by default places the burden of proof completely upon the boy, not the adult responsible. For the past 25 years, statistics remain constant that 1-in-5 boys experience sexual abuse prior to the age of 16. This statistic represents a good-sized number, roughly 30,000,000 males in the United States, or the population of California.
These statistics may be conservative however, because the issue of sexual assault on boys is not fully understood. The stigma attached to males --they should be able to protect themselves-- does encourage males to keep issues they face hidden from parents or friends. Furthermore, gay men in particular, are less likely to report sexual assault at any age, for male-to-male sexual content is more acceptable.
Throughout the 1980s and '90s, the stigma around boyhood assault has decreased due to high profile court cases. The Internet also acts as a "community" for males to discuss their abuse anonymously without risk of judgement by those they know.
From criminal research, we know that pedophiles were molested as boys, or shown how to molest, and that on the average, serial pedophiles molested 120 boys each before being caught. Serial pedophiles will molest boys and girls; however, the number of girls is 84 per pedophile. Women on the other hand are more likely to experience rape as an adult. Is there a permanent cure for sexual predators? Sadly, we don't know.
If the numbers arenít of concern there are other factors to consider before deciding this problem isnít a big deal. It is virtually impossible to be molested as a child and grow up to live a healthy, productive life without post-assault treatment.
Children need to recover in order to accept the crime committed to their body. Those who do not recover grow into adulthood severely marred by the body trauma. Males who have been assaulted as children exhibit behaviors ranging from drug and alcohol abuse to violent crimeóincluding sexual assault.
Boys who have been molested will often act out sexually, or aggressively toward themselves or others after their assault. Ironically, those "tough boys" we knew as children were tough for a reason. Research shows that young male victims are five times more likely to commit a crime before age 18. Boys keep their molest secret for fear of being judged gay or of being weak. Actions speak for words.
My research has shown me that once a boy is assaulted, his chance of being victimized again quadruples. Three out of four inner-city gangs use sexual assault on new members as part of initiation. The leading cause of attempted suicide among males is rooted in prior sexual assault. More than 90 percent of teenage alcoholics and drug addicts in treatment have reported being victims of sexual assault.
The Adult Response
In a rational and kind community, what purpose would public places serve where men congregate for sexual stimulation? In every major city, certain clubs, and parks are notorious spots for men to seek anonymous sexual gratification. Internet sites provide directions, locations, and specific times for sexual encounters. Men seeking anonymous sex with women is more acceptable by society, and is available through clubs, bars, and brothels. Men-to-men encounters are not acceptable, thus, engagement becomes more creative often in out-of-the way places, or public toilets, parks, and book stores.
Who are these men? The purpose of this story is not to identify anonymous meeting places. However, any search engine will display this information for your area by simply typing "sexual encounter" "(your city)."
The men who frequent parks or clubs are not all victims of childhood sexual abuse. But the act of anonymous sexual gratification is often found as a symptom of the male's attempt to gain control of his life -- which to him is out of control. Male victims do see their lives as "out-of-control."
These men are not anonymous afterall. They may have arrived at a truck stop or park for pleasure from another town. They may be a priest, a teacher, a coworker, a father, a husband, or a friend. The act of anonymous sex continues the path of secrecy, denial, and sadistically will keep the (adult) child's molest alive.
Men who exhibit the need for sexual gratification in anonymous habit, exhibit addictive behavior. There is a direct correlation between adult sexual addiction and childhood sexual assault.
Anything that keeps the man from admitting his failure to protect himself will appear to help him forget the pain, whether it is the high from anonymous sex, or the high from drugs, or the similar high that some men experience from consuming themselves with work. The technique to deny one's activity can be masterfully creative. It sets the stage for his life, of which he is the producer, actor, and audience. It separates their addictive behavior from rational behavior by becoming an emotionally removed observer.
As the survivor of a sexual assault that occurred when I was 15, I have always found it difficult to describe the fury of emotions and self-assessment that followed the crime. Along with my sister and 65 others in San Juan Capistrano, CA, my rapist, Gerald "Jerry" P Young, faced only a handful of days in jail for his crimes against both boys and girls.
Even though I coped, my struggle is made insignificant with words. I felt worthless, helpless, and guilt blossomed inside and rooted into every nerve. By not having been able to fight Jerry off my body, I told myself, I was therefore a wimp, and insignificant and horrid waste of a man, a fag. There was no one to tell. I didnít cry, I didnít laugh, and above all I didnít feel, because feelings would build me into a raging maniac. I kept everyone away by hurting them, believing on some level that in this way I would ensure that no one would ever be close enough to hurt me again. No one had told me that an adult would harm a child. I wondered what else they hadnít told me about life, what other lies would haunt me as I grew into adulthood.
When I finally turned to my parents, only after learning of my sister's repeated molests, we turned to our Catholic Parish priest. He advised us to "forgive and forget." Those words the Catholic Church uses often. Why would a respected priest ignore my parent's request for consolation? He ignored my (adult) request for answer 15 years later, and now he lives in retirement.
There is no quick recovery for adult men, but it is possible, and worth the effort. Healing the crime may be the greatest challenge during his lifetime. Healing can drain a survivor of everything he ever learned about life, people and religion, and there is a tendency to become physically exhausted for months or longer. Binge-drinking somehow seems easier to fall back on, but with the professional skills of a trained therapist, victims can move on.
The process for an adult male will turn your life upside down. Everyone the victim knows might become a stranger, except for his therapist and other survivors. Maybe this is why so many men choose another way out. After recovery, males do emerge stronger, healthier, and can experience joy in life. It is far easier to help a boy immediately following a molest, rather than waiting for him to enter adulthood with scars and baggage.
What hurts today is the way in which society remains out of focus and seemingly uninterested in the sexual abuse of a boy. Itís much easier to believe a boy is reporting a false memory, because it makes the real world seem a bit safer if everything we say is a fantasy. It remains taboo for a boy to discuss what happened. Just as it remains taboo for 9-11 witnesses to admit they still experience nightmares. Tragic circumstances require community patience, interaction, and support. Silence condones tragedy, and leaves victims out-in-the-cold.
Parents assume an apathetic role because they say, "It wonít happen to my son. It only happens to . . ." (fill in the blankóBlack kids, gay people, etc.). The evidence of denial grows as the communities build guarded gates and private schools, all in hopes of protecting their children from someone who fits societyís stereotype of a child molester -- the rare occurence of stranger danger, which accounts for less than 1 percent of all pedophilia instances.
No matter what we do, pedophiles are the only people who have cracked the system. Their crimes generally go undetected by the parents of their victims until the damage is done, and if offenders are caught, their sentences generally last no more than two years. Only pedophiles who murder a child (2 in 10,000) receive enough press coverage to rally community action.
While President George W Bush was governor of Texas, he supported legislative proposal to castrate pedophiles. The propose itself is a myth, drawn with good intentions, it fails to address the issue head-on. Nor does castration remove "the hands" that molest a boy or girl... (then Governor) Bush commented for this article that rape was a "Woman thing," and he would be dropping financial support to keep the month of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, in Texas. (This program was initiated by former Gov. Anne Richards, at a state cost of $150,000.)
What we need for our children is an environment that ends the cycle of abuse; and embraces a boy who has the courage to tell of his rape. There is no mental cure for pedophiles. Victims can emerge victorious. We must believe a boy who tells, and support him, and not make him responsible for holding the burden of the adult act. Being molested is not what a boy wants. Even though it is out of his control, he all too often is the only person who pays.
Jeffrey Allen Miller was Director of National Rape Awareness Day, 24 April, 1994-1996