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Exploring male childhood sexual abuse survivors’ experiences of specialist counselling services

Global estimates suggest 5% to 10% of men report experience of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). However, male CSA is significantly underreported, with men being reluctant to disclose due to vulnerability, stigmatisation, homophobic responses and fearing a loss of masculinity.

A lack of research and service provision targeted towards men suggests male survivors of CSA are marginalised. This qualitative study, using a narrative approach, focussed on four adult male survivors of CSA. The aim of the study was to explore their experiences of engaging in counselling and support services for CSA from nonstatutory and voluntary organisations. Face-to-face narrative interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim.

Analysis was undertaken using a two-phase approach; first, each narrative was analysed as a whole; second, an across-transcripts analysis was carried out to identify shared themes and divergences that emerged from the individual stories. In this paper, findings from the second phase of the analysis are presented. Three themes regarding male survivors’ experiences of specialist counselling services were identified: “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor,” “Trust me, I’m a Counsellor” and “Counsellor or Mother?”

This is the first academic study focussing specifically on men’s experience of support for CSA in the UK from a service user perspective. Making an original contribution to the knowledge base regarding counselling experiences and the effectiveness of therapy for male CSA survivors, it will help to inform professional counselling services which are likely to come into contact with male survivors of CSA.

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