Many men who have been abused as children experience unique difficulties parenting their own children, according to an analysis of Australian and international research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).
AIFS’ researcher, Rhys Price-Robertson said male survivors of child sexual abuse fear they may abuse their own children, often experience problems showing physical contact or affection with them and can be overprotective.
Mr Price-Robertson said men were hesitant to talk about their parenting problems due to the widespread social belief that male victims of sexual abuse automatically go on to be abusers.
“The trauma of child sexual abuse can manifest in many areas of male survivors’ lives including their attitudes towards parenting and their relationship with their children,” he said.
“The issue is likely affecting a large number of Australian men, yet unfortunately many of these men suffer in silence.
“There is an idea in the community that boys who experience sexual abuse will go on to be paedophiles and that the progression from victim to offender is somehow automatic.
“While male survivors might be at a statistically higher risk of perpetrating child sexual abuse, the vast majority of victims of child sexual abuse do not go on to abuse.”
Mr Price-Robertson said for some men, fatherhood could be both a healing experience and reignite past traumas of abuse.
“The first step towards improving policy and services responses to male survivors is to raise awareness of the difficulties they may face with regard to fatherhood,” he said.