Men who have been sexually abused as children are more likely to overcome its crippling psychological effects if they take practical, positive steps to overcome the situation, than those who use other methods.

That is among the findings from one of Australia’s largest research projects into the effects of sexual abuse on boys, which included Griffith university Professor Patrick O’Leary (Head of the School of Humans Services and Social Work) as one of the lead researchers.

Talk is cheap for Aussie men

“Australian men often fare worse than North American men when it comes to disclosing the nature of their abuse, it just seems to be so much harder for us to open up when we are adults,” said Professor O‘Leary,

“Therapies which involve just talking about problems don’t seem to wash all that well with Australian blokes (compared to Nth Americans). The (147) guys we surveyed who had done better, had mostly done, something practical, from reporting the, perpetrator, bringing charges, informally telling friends, but in some way taking action.”

Being believed is important

Such action can be fraught, with many survivors reporting their greatest difficulties stemmed from not being believed when they did take action.

“That situation can be horrific for the boy involved, often worse than the abuse itself, especially if the abuse occurred in institutions,” he said.

It is estimated around 1 in 5 Australian men has suffered sexual abuse as a child, which is such a significant number Professor O’Leary wants to find out more about what mechanisms they have used to prevent the abuse dominating their lives.

“We need to learn from them, because this is pretty huge unknown problem.”