Fiction about Sexual Abuse of Boys/Men

Background

I have had discussions in a couple of writers’ communities lately about the topic of the sexual abuse of men and boys, some of the myths that surround it, and giving men/boys “permission” to speak about sexual abuse on an equal footing with women/girls. We’ve discussed male authors writing about sexual abuse and whether women want to hear from them.

This is a tough topic. Women have come a long way in a short time, moving from where sexual abuse was a taboo topic and victims of sexual assault were blamed for their role in an assault to where it is now far more acceptable to discuss sexual abuse openly without being shamed or shunned. Granted, the world is still not perfect and the negative, shaming influence will likely always be there to some extent, but things are much better than they were.

“Like, if it’s the guy who didn’t consent,” he asked me, “what do you call that?”

Boys Often Don’t Recognize When They’ve Been Sexually Assaulted
By Peggy Orenstein

But making men and boys part of the discussion about sexual abuse is still back in the dark ages. There is, to begin with, the idea that there is no such thing as the sexual abuse or assault of boys or men. And if it does exist, such a small percentage of the male sex are affected that there is really no point in focusing on it. And, if it exists, then the perpetrators are always men, never women.

In some of the discussions that I have had recently, it has been suggested that men have no place in the discussion of (and writing about) sexual abuse. And if they must participate, they can only talk/write about the experiences of men. They have no part in the bigger discussion. It is, apparently, creepy for men to have anything to say about or against the sexual abuse of women and girls. (Here I am, writing a blog article about the sexual abuse of members of the opposite sex. Is that creepy? Do you think I’m a predator because I choose to write about it?)

It is generally accepted that one in six boys in the United States will become victims of sexual abuse before they turn 18.

The Secret Lives of Male Sex Abuse Survivors, by Joanna Schroeder

It has been suggested that:

  • Men don’t feel the same way about being sexually abused as women do.
  • It’s not as traumatic for them.
  • A man being sexually assaulted by a woman would actually not be traumatized, because men always like sex.
  • Maybe it would be just as harmful to a young boy as a young girl, but not to a teen or grown man

Let’s be clear. These are myths. They are lies. Male sexual assault survivors are in the same place now that women were decades ago. Dealing with voices that tell them: You’re making it up. You liked it. You must have asked for it. Show me the injuries that prove you fought back. If you had an erection or orgasm, that shows that you enjoyed it and it couldn’t have been rape.

Sex abuse, as one would imagine, has a profound effect on its victims. Male survivors have a much higher risk of depression and PTSD, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide than other men. … According to a study reported in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have twice the risk of suicide attempts … “the probability for alcohol problems in adulthood is about 80% for men who have experienced sexual abuse, as compared to 11% for men who have never been sexually abused.”

The Secret Lives of Male Sex Abuse Survivors, by Joanna Schroeder

Resources

Here are a few resources that are much more articulate than I can be in a blog post and can give you some real insight.

Support

There are not a lot of support groups and organizations for male survivors of sexual abuse/assault. Sometimes, unbelievably, they are funneled into groups created to counsel the perpetrators of sexual assault. Ugh. Hop on over to RAINN for some direction in finding support for male survivors.

Books

This is a book blog, and you came here for book suggestions! First are some of the books that I have written that deal with the sexual assault of boys/men, and then a few more that I’ve managed to track down. I have at least three more books coming out later this year that touch on sexual assault of boys/men, so I’ll be back again to add a more.

Endless Change

(Award winner)

Parker’s mother always said he jumped into things without thinking first, and that’s exactly what he did when he saw Dakota, cold and hungry, fending for herself on the city streets. How could he ignore the pain and fear in her dark eyes? Dakota was eager to go to school and she made friends quickly, eager to make up for a dismal childhood full of deprivation and abuse by enjoying every moment she could.

But there was something wrong with Dakota. It wasn’t just the hollowness in her eyes or her traumatic past. Others sensed it too and warned Parker not to get too close to Dakota. But despite his questions, he just can’t help falling for her.

Dakota holds her secrets close, and Parker is worried that if he pushes too hard for answers, she’ll just run away.

Toxo, Medical Kidnap Files #4

Caleb, an autistic teen is mistakenly arrested. Bad turns to worse when he is then apprehended from his family by DFS.

His mother could never have predicted the chain of events in a million years.

In trying to protect him, DFS has actually put Caleb in harm’s way.

Once again, Gabriel and Renata have teamed up to right injustice and to get Caleb to safety. But Andrew Searle is on the case, and it’s his job to see that they don’t succeed and that Caleb remains in foster care.

Don’t Forget Steven

Things never have been easy for Steven. He accepts that, and just makes the best of things. He might not have parents or a happy home. Or enough to eat most days. But at least he has a couple of loyal friends who stand by him and help out when they can. At least he has school, someplace he can go to escape the abuse.

But just when he thought things couldn’t get much worse, they did.

Steven is accused of murder. But that isn’t the worst part. The really bad part is not even knowing if he did it.

Deviation, Breaking the Pattern #1

“You’re a good kid, Henry.”

Everyone knew that he was a good guy; geeky, responsible, hard-working.  Henry has had a lot to deal with in the past.  Now, as he should be focusing on his schooling and preparing himself for the future, he is hindered by abuse, the challenge of raising his baby brother while dealing with his mother’s deep depressions, and the return of a ghost from the past Henry has tried his best to forget.

But it seems that Henry can’t avoid the nastiness of life.  As hard as he tries, it’s one more disaster after another as his life spirals out of control.

Can Henry escape the darkness, or is he doomed to be consumed by it?

More books

I am focusing on fiction about male sexual abuse here, which is difficult to find. I have included a couple of memoirs as well, but if you are looking for non-fiction and self-help books by or for male survivors of abuse, check out this page.

On to what fiction (and some memoirs) I could find. If you are aware of others, please mention them in the comments section below!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Boy Toy

Boy Toy, by Barry Lyga

After five years of fighting his way past flickers of memory about the teacher who molested him and the incident that brought the crime to light, eighteen-year-old Josh gets help in coping with his molestor’’s release from prison when he finally tells his best friends the whole truth. 

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, by Matthew Quick

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was–that I couldn’t stick around–and that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

Maybe one day he’ll believe that being different is okay, important even. 

But not today.

When Jeff Comes Home

When Jeff Comes Home, by Catherine Atkins

Sixteen-year-old Jeff, returning home after having been kidnapped and held prisoner for three years, must face his family, friends, and school and the widespread assumption that he engaged in sexual activity with his kidnapper.

This sounds like a possible fictionalization of the Steven Staynor story, which is recounted in I Know My First Name is Steven.

The Foxhole Court

The Foxhole Court, by Nora Sakavic

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

Split

Split, by Swati Avasthi

Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.

At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. Award-winning novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split—how do you begin to live again? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down.

A Man Named Dave

A Man Named Dave, by Dave Pelzer

A Man Named Dave is the conclusion to Dave Pelzer’s inspirational bestselling trilogy of memoirs that began with A Child Called “It” and The Lost Boy. Be warned that these are raw, gritty accounts of Dave Pelzer’s childhood experiences.

“All those years you tried your best to break me, and I’m still here. One day you’ll see, I’m going to make something of myself.” These words were Dave Pelzer’s declaration of independence to his mother, and they represented the ultimate act of self-reliance. Dave’s father never intervened as his mother abused him with shocking brutality, denying him food and clothing, torturing him in any way she could imagine. This was the woman who told her son she could kill him any time she wanted to—and nearly did. 

Street Child

Street Child, by Justin Reed Early

This book is one that I had to put away and come back to several times before I managed to finish it, it’s that raw. But it is an amazing story.

Street Child is the shock-inspiring story of a young boy who escapes his increasingly dysfunctional and violent middle class home. Remanded into state custody at ten years old, he embarks on a journey through the foster care system only finding safety from unlikely skid-row heroes on downtown streets of Seattle and San Francisco – where children are victims and victims are considered criminals. 

While dodging serial killers and predators, including a juvenile court judge who oversees his custody, these children develop familial bonds while protecting each other in an increasingly dangerous – yet invisible world. By telling these authentic stories with often times devastating outcomes, he articulates the stark reality of life on the streets for countless young people. 

Street Child is a powerful and intimate depiction into these homeless children’s actual lives during their most desperate times of survival. Their sweet camaraderie, funny antics, and intimate relationships will move your heart and soul into a new understanding and personalization of their noble plight. 

Street Child is a journey no child should ever have to endure.

Comments

  1. Margaret Lambert says

    You asked in your newsletter if I thought you were a predator for writing about sexual abuse of boys/men – no, I do not! This is a topic that must be discussed with both sexes! I am telling you this because both my younger brothers and I were sexually abused from early ages. Not a team coach, priest or teacher or even that strange uncle – our abuser was my mother. The last person most people would ever think of being a sexual abuser. There were physical abuses, the beatings, and the knowledge that our mother was the town tramp. If I were to find a good book that dealt with this subject in a mature, caring nature, I would certainly read it. Thank you for letting me speak.

    • Thanks so much for your input. We need to be aware of how common this is. It is estimated that 90-95% of sexual abuse by females is unreported. The victims know they wouldn’t be believed, so they don’t want to risk putting it out there. Reported cases suggest that at least 20% of sexual abuse is by women – frequently mothers, teachers, and women who co-abuse with male partners. You’re not alone, and I hope to hear more voices and see more literature addressing this. I have written very little about female abusers at this point, you can be sure there will be more down the road…

      • Margaret Lambert says

        Thank you for replying to my post. We can no longer live in the dark ages. It is time to bring this abuse to the front! Being the eldest of my family I struggled as best I could to protect my younger brothers but was not always there when things happened. It was only by chance that I discovered the harm ( sexual) that had come to them. When we discussed it all those years ago, we found out more than we really wanted to know, but it was so necessary. We are all seniors now but those horrors still come back in the form of flashbacks and indeed, had a debilitating effect on us in our respective marriages. I was luckier than my brothers in that I was able to confront my monster, at least in my mind if not literally. Five years ago, when on of my sons died of an overdose, I realized I needed professional help to cope with his death. What came out in the first session was frankly, very disturbing because I went all the way back to very young childhood. Mothers are not always the saints they are perpetrated to be – not by a long shot! I still find it difficult to talk about but if there was a way I could help someone, anyone, who has suffered through this, I would be happy to listen and offer what I could to help them.

  2. Sexual assault does not belong to one gender. All deserve our sympathies and those who think otherwise are the ones who should be frowned upon.

Tell me what you think!

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