Men Report Growth After Their Childhood Sexual Abuse
Methods: We recruited participants through three national survivor organizations: the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, MaleSurvivor, and 1in6.org. The sample consisted of 487 men, ranging in age from 19 to 84 years, who were sexually abused as children. Most participants were Caucasian and cohabitating with a spouse/partner. The participants completed an anonymous, Internet-based survey. We used standardized measures for growth and masculine norms, and developed and tested new measures for concepts such as social support following disclosure. Direct and indirect effects were tested using path analysis and bootstrapping procedures. The goodness of fit of the final model was excellent (χ2 (3, N = 472) = 2.97, p = 0.397, CFI = 1.00, NFI = .99, RMSEA = 0.00).
Results: Although the direct path from time since the abuse to posttraumatic growth was not significant, the direct paths from the other four variables (cognitive processing, social support, masculine norms, and turning point) to growth were significant and in the expected directions. Furthermore, most of the hypothesized indirect pathways were also significant; the three exogenous variables (masculine norms, time since abuse, and turning point) were related to growth through cognitive processing and social support. Masculine norms, for example, was negatively related to cognitive processing. Time since the abuse was positively related to cognitive processing and negatively related to social support. Turning point was positively related to both of the endogenous variables.
Conclusion and Implications: Based on our findings, mental health professionals working with male survivors should (a) assist clients in cognitively processing their sexual abuse experience, (b) assess and discuss masculine norms, and, if necessary, help men deconstruct rigid or extreme views of masculinity, and (c) explore how people responded to previous disclosures of CSA and, if negative, help men understand how those responses may have negatively affected their growth.