There is limited research on the disclosure experiences of men who have experienced childhood sexual abuse and on how such experiences might impact mental health outcomes.
The current study described men’s disclosure experiences and examined the role of disclosure characteristics on mental well-being (internalizing and externalizing behaviors, substance use, resilience).
Men (N = 253) from across Canada and the U.S. were recruited through websites for males with sexual abuse histories. Men aged 18–59 years anonymously completed an online study on their sexual abuse, disclosure experiences, and mental health outcomes.
Findings indicated that 77.9 % of men disclosed their sexual abuse, although they waited an average of 15.4 years before sharing their experience. Once disclosed, 64.4% of the men reported a positive response (e.g., support), while 35.6 % reported a negative response (e.g., blame). Regression analyses indicated that a greater delay in disclosure predicted greater externalizing behaviors (B = .49, p < .05), although this was a small effect (Cohen’s f 2 = 0.02). Additional disclosure variables were associated with components of externalizing (aggressive and rule-breaking behaviors) and internalizing (somatic complaints) behaviors.
These results require replication in future studies. However, they do suggest that efforts need to be undertaken to address the barriers that hinder men from disclosing their sexual abuse and to ensure that men are supported once they disclose.
Romano, E., Moorman, J., Ressel, M. and Lyons, J. (2019). Men with childhood abuse histories: disclosure experiences and links with mental health. Child Abuse & Neglect, 89. DOI: /10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.12.010.
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