Don't Tell, Second Edition

Don't Tell, Second Edition: The Sexual Abuse of Boys

MICHEL DORAIS
Translated by ISABEL DENHOLM MEYER
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 2
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1q5zrg
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  • Book Info
    Don't Tell, Second Edition
    Book Description:

    Don't Tell examines the effects of sexual abuse on the emotional and sexual life of men, including their sense of self and their personal relationships. Using first-hand accounts, Dorais shows that certain reactions are specific to male victims as they attempt to preserve their physical integrity and conceptions of masculinity. He provides innovative strategies for both prevention and treatment that will be of use to those who have suffered abuse as well as to their families and all those who are trying to help them - spouses, friends, social workers, and therapists.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7536-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Authorʹs Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Translatorʹs Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xv-2)
    Jean-Paul Roger

    My initial reaction on being asked to preface a work of the caliber of Donʹt Tell: The Sexual Abuse of Boys was a mixture of enthusiasm and apprehension. What qualifications did I have for such an assignment? But as a male incest victim and a student who has now become a writer and teacher, I know how crucial this book has been in lighting the dark silence that surrounds male victims of sexual abuse.

    At first I assumed Iʹd merely have to reread my original annotations to Michel Doraisʹs text and they would guide me in producing the introduction, but...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Donʹt Tell Anyone
    (pp. 3-15)

    Such is the warning, or rather the threat, made by a man or an adolescent to the boy he has just sexually abused. Curiously, when the child unveils this secret for the first time, he often uses the same words: ʺDonʹt tell anyone.ʺ The child seems to believe it is in his best interest to keep the information a close secret. He is all too aware of the taboos pertaining to the abuse of boys by older males: the taboo around the vulnerability of males, the taboo against homosexuality, and the taboo against the involvement of minors in sexual behaviour....

  8. CHAPTER TWO It Never Happens to Boys?
    (pp. 16-41)

    For a long time, it was thought that sexual abuse of boys was still a marginal phenomenon. This is not so. Within the past few years North American researchers have found that one out of six boys is a victim of sexual abuse. In a Canadian national survey carried out for the Badgley Commission in the early 1980s,¹ it was found that, in a sample of 1,002 Canadian males, 30.6 percent reported having undergone unwanted sexual acts ranging from exhibitionism to sexual touching to threats of violence and rape. Looking more closely at these findings, about sixteen percent of male...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Vulnerable and Trapped: How Sexual Abuse Comes About
    (pp. 42-58)

    The circumstances surrounding the childhood abuse of the young men interviewed for this study show how trapped they were in one way or another. Most of the boys were profoundly vulnerable, both physically, as children, and psychologically, as lonely, rejected, or unloved youngsters with troubled families. That is why so many of them, at least at the beginning, saw their relationship with the aggressor as a last hope or refuge. The aggressor could be an uncle who takes the place of an absent, indifferent, or violent father; the brother who pays a certain amount of attention to a younger sibling...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR The Secret of the ʺMenʹs Houseʺ: How Victims Perceive Sexual Abuse
    (pp. 59-80)

    When children are sexually abused at a young age, they have no reference point from which to evaluate the meaning of such a traumatising experience. A child or a young adolescent, faced with a situation he can hardly understand, will construct different hypotheses to try and make sense of what is going on, to explain to himself why this is happening to him. He might tell himself, for instance, that his abuser needs affection, or that he has no opportunity to find adult partners. He may see the abuser as wanting to teach him about sexuality; he may think the...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Coming to Terms with Abuse: Confused Emotions
    (pp. 81-108)

    The boy who has been abused carries a significant psychological wound that is not only difficult to heal but often worsens over time. The more the wound is denied, hidden, or neglected, the more it makes itself felt in different physical, psychological, and relational symptoms. As one respondent said, ʺItʹs like a time bomb inside you,ʺ an invisible weapon that cannot be prevented from exploding because no one understands its mechanism well enough.

    It is difficult to establish a posteriori the cause-and-effect linkages between the trauma of sexual abuse and the problems experienced later by young male victims, since many...

  12. CHAPTER SIX ʺWhy Me?ʺ: Identity Confusion
    (pp. 109-135)

    Having reviewed the contradictory emotions and feelings of boys who have been victims of sexual abuse, it remains to be seen how such experiences weigh upon their identity. As we can see from the respondent interviews an impression of dispossession of the self is characteristic of men who have been sexually abused by other men. How does this impinge upon their self-image? How do they build a masculine identity? What existential questions confront them? In order to better understand the dynamics pertaining to male victims of sexual abuse in childhood, it is of prime importance to look into these elements....

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN From Nightmares to Fantasies: Coping Strategies and Life Scripts
    (pp. 136-158)

    At the cognitive and affective levels, a boy who has been sexually abused must in one way or another adapt to the traumas he has undergone. His own response will depend, among other things, on the reaction of his immediate family to his disclosure of the abuse, on the type of abuse involved, the circumstances that produced it, its frequency, its duration, and other significant events that took place before, during, and after the abuse. One thing seems certain: the traumas linked to sexual abuse create certain cognitive connections in the childʹs or young adolescentʹs mind. That is why boys...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT To Turn the Page or to Rewrite It? Prevention and Intervention
    (pp. 159-177)

    While conducting my research, three questions were asked repeatedly both by respondents and by colleagues with whom I shared my observations: Is it possible to extricate oneself from the after-effects of sexual abuse? What is it that distinguishes ex-victims who seem to be ʺcoming out of itʺ from the others? How can we better help boys who have undergone sexual abuse?

    The many types of abuse and their after-effects call for a large array of interventions, which I cannot completely cover here. I do not pretend to reinvent social intervention in the area of sexual abuse. I would rather flesh...

  15. Epilogue
    (pp. 178-180)

    I wrote this book in order to better understand a little-known phenomenon and to share my discoveries about it. Some partial answers emerge from this study, but many questions remain. For example: To what extent does recall exist in the body and memory? Exactly what roles are played by the cognitive impressions left behind by a sexual aggression? If the past cannnot be erased, how may its after-effects be dealt with? Are there therapies or processes that would enable the sexually abused boy to turn the page once and for all? We are only just now beginning to find fragments...

  16. APPENDIX ONE Profile of Respondents in Sample
    (pp. 183-184)
  17. APPENDIX TWO Research Method
    (pp. 185-186)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 187-194)
  19. Index
    (pp. 195-205)