Men Abused as Boys: “Women as Perpetrators”

Link to "Shedding Light on the Sexual Abuse of Boys and the Men They Become" by Dr. Merle Yost
Link to “Shedding Light on the Sexual Abuse of Boys and the Men They Become” by Dr. Merle Yost

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Merle Yost’s piece entitled, “Shedding Light on the Sexual Abuse of Boys and the Men They Become”. The full, original article can be accessed through the link above.

Note: the mention of minors having sex with adults in the article should be read as non-consensual sex or, more accurately, rape.


“Men who had sex with women when they were still young boys [rape] are often told that they were lucky to be initiated so young. It is sometimes viewed as a rite of passage that makes him a man. In reality, there is no better way to cripple a boy/man emotionally.

A situation with a 15-year-old girl having sex with a 30-year-old man would be recognized pretty clearly as sexual abuse. There is the belief that girls mature faster than boys. Why then, would we assume that a 15-year-old boy would be more emotionally ready to handle sex than a 15-year-old girl?

The movie Summer of ’42 is often seen as a picture glorifying sex between an older woman and a teenage boy. Upon closer examination, he is overwhelmed and confused by the experience. It was not a good or ‘man making’ experience.

We have only begun talking about and acknowledging female perpetrators in the past few years. They were thought to be the rare event, the exception to the rule. As the cloak of secrecy has been peeled back, we are discovering that female perpetrators are not uncommon. For several years, I cut stories out of the newspaper about female perpetrators. In a majority of the cases, it was the husband and wife, dad and mom, acting in concert, to molest their children. The most recent statistics that I have seen support this sampling as being representative of the overall population.

There are four basic ways that women sexually abuse boys: overt, covert, a sexual violation, or boundary crossing. Abuse can easily include more than one type.

Overt abuse is similar to what we think of as typical sexual abuse. With a female as the perpetrator, this might involve oral sex, intercourse, masturbation, fondling, or sexual punishments.

Covert abuse is more difficult to observe. It can include voyeurism, exposure, seductive touching, sexualized hugs, kissing on the mouth in a sexual way, extended nursing that satisfies a sexual need of the mother, or flirting with a male child, possibly to shame or make the woman’s husband/partner jealous.

The sexual violation of a child means the invasion of privacy in a sexual area of the body. This may include enemas, bathing together, washing the child beyond a reasonable age, obsessive cleaning of the foreskin, squeezing pimples, intrusive questions about bodily functions (especially bowel movements), or any activity in which the adult is using the child to fulfill a sexual or erotic desire.

Boundary crossing, which is an essential part of all sexual abuse, deserves special mention because it may be limited to emotional incest, or it may be as complete a violation as a women substituting a boy for a divorced, deceased, or simply absent husband. This includes using the boy as a confidant about personal or sexual issues. Mom complaining that dad “…was a lousy fuck last night” is boundary crossing just as much as the 14-year-old baby sitter fondling her four-year-old charge.

The result of this abuse by a woman can be a false sense of power, inflating the boy to believe that he is more powerful than he really is. He is led into the false belief that he is in control, not realizing or understanding that he is being used and controlled.

Conversely, the abuse can also lead to a feeling of worthlessness. The boy inhales the message that “I have no value, my body is all that has value or what I can do for others.” There is no personal sense of value or worthiness.

The boy is eventually going to feel abandoned, and will likely feel betrayed. The woman or girl was not there for him in the first place. When he realizes this, then his picture of what has occurred will change dramatically. After the inflation comes the deflation from the withdrawal and realization that what happened was not about him, that he was only being used. All of this results in rage—rage about the impact upon their sexuality, rage about being used, rage about how it has messed up his relationships with other women, and rage at not being able to really trust or let anyone get really close.

It was an overwhelming experience and the boy was incapable of processing or understanding what had happened to him. He freezes inside, or simply pushes the memory so far to the background that he can’t touch it. Unfortunately, he is shutting off an essential part of himself that will need to be reclaimed before he is able to trust and heal. So the adult is left with fears of intimacy and loads of insecurity.

For many men, the most devastating blow is the impact upon their relationships with women. The abuse experience can leave them ambivalent about sex and about women. While it cannot change their sexual orientation, it will leave them deeply conflicted. Being close to a woman is likely to bring up old unresolved feelings, which get in the way of having a real relationship in the here and now.

This is a brief overview of the kinds of abuse that some women do to boys and the impact that abuse can have on the boys as they become men. If you have any questions, please send me an email and I will do my best to answer them.”

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