Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
Dr. Howard Fradkin, a psychologist who has worked with more than 1,000 male survivors of sexual abuse, says people aren't aware that one in six men are sexually abused because these men are so ashamed, they don't speak out about it. "[Men] are supposed to be in control," Dr. Fradkin says. "We're supposed to be strong and powerful."
Some boys feel shameful because they experience an erection when they're molested, but Dr. Fradkin says that's just the male body's natural reaction. "It's not about having pleasure," he says. "It is something about just feeling, 'Oh, wow, I'm getting some attention. ... They picked you out because you're vulnerable, because you need the attention, you want the attention. They pick you out and they take advantage of you. They do terrible, awful things."
Oftentimes, Dr. Fradkin says these vulnerable boys keep going back to their abusers. "You become loyal to the molester because they've engendered your trust in them. You still think it won't happen again," Dr. Fradkin says. "It won't be done to you again. This time it will be different...and it never is."
Over time, victims learn to believe the lies their perpetrators tell them. "[Like] telling you that they love you, they care about you, this is for your own good," Dr. Fradkin says. "This is because they want to nurture you and protect you."
Tyler agrees. "If you've never had that—never had love, never had affection—it's much easier for them to do that," he says.
Tune in next Friday, November 12, as some of the women and partners in these 200 men's lives join them to talk more about the fallout of sexual abuse. Plus, Dr. Fradkin talks about the lifelong impact that childhood sexual abuse can have on its victims.
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