Roy Gilbert

Men Who Have Been Sexually Abused Have Trouble Getting Treatment

Jim Holland says he was raped by a priest when he was 13 years old. For the next 30 years, Holland locked his trauma away, holding it at bay with drinking, drugs and promiscuity. The 2003 Boston Globe Spotlight investigation of sexual abuse by priests triggered his memories.

“I kept on saying, ‘No, it was no big deal. That really didn’t happen,’ ” says Holland.

Holland knew he needed help, but there were few therapists specializing in this kind of trauma. So he shoved his pain back down.

It took another five years, his brother’s suicide and a pulmonary embolism for Holland to find the men’s support group at Fenway Health in Boston. At the first session, Holland remembers, everyone’s eyes were locked on the carpet.

“It was uncomfortable, my heart was beating hard and I didn’t want to be there,” Holland says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Preventionestimates that 1 in 6 men have been sexually victimized . It’s a largely silent epidemic despite the high-profile revelations of abuse by Catholic priests and Boy Scout leaders. A failure to confront this issue complicates recovery and healing for many men and most of the estimated 21 million male survivors who never disclose that they were abused.

Sharon Imperato of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) helped facilitate Holland’s group and has worked with male survivors for nearly 20 years. She says that men typically seek services around age 40, prompted by depression or anxiety. Many men don’t recognize their trauma as sexual abuse […]

Tagged on: