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Background: Due to societal stereotypes around masculinity (i.e. men should be strong and able to physically resist an offender), male survivors of child sexual abuse frequently experience sexuality and gender role crises, as they tend to blame themselves for not protecting themselves. The negative effects on male and female survivors of sexual abuse are well documented. There is some evidence to suggest that female survivors may experience post traumatic growth (PTG), although less is known about male survivors and PTG.
Aims: To explore the PTG processes involved in the development of positive gender roles and sexuality in male survivors of child sexual abuse.
Method: Recruitment through national male survivor support organisations and via social media resulted in a sample of 12 participants from the UK, EU and USA. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted, transcribed and analysed using social constructionist thematic analysis.
Results: The parallel processes of ‘struggling and changing’ and ‘developing and growing’ were evident in the PTG journeys of participants. Ten subthemes were developed, relating to gender role redevelopment; ‘Turning point’, ‘Redefining masculinity and sexuality’, ‘Reconnection’, ‘Resilience’, ‘Enablers and barriers’, ‘Appreciation of life’, ‘Living by masculine values’, ‘Attunement’, ‘Stronger person’ and ‘Activism’, highlighted the positive change experienced.
Conclusions: This study has provided much-needed empirical support for the development of positive gender role and sexuality following CSA, and has enabled conceptualisation of PTG in male survivors.
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