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Never-Betrayed Men Less Likely to Indulge in Child Sex Abuse

, including those who had and had not suffered from some kind of betrayal of adult trust, and males who had experienced such betrayal all were willing to believe such an allegation, even more so in the cases where memory had always been present. There was a dramatic decline in believability for men with no abuse history. 'I was surprised that this was such a big effect, and that there was such a difference between males and females,' Freyd said.

'In psychology, we often hear about main effects – men vs. women, trauma history vs. no trauma history – but here what we have is an interaction, where trauma history really mattered with the men, and their ability to believe a story depended on their personal experience,' she said.

The findings, she added, suggest that educational efforts may need to be more heavily focused toward men to help them understand that such acts do occur and that the abuse often can contribue to a number of societal ills. Among the problems, she noted, are mental and physical health problems, substance abuse, victimization and criminality in adulthood.

'There is a very high prevalence of child sexual abuse both in our country and around the world,' she said. 'It clearly has negative impacts on people. It doesn't mean that everybody who is sexually abused has a bad outcome, but, like smoking, it increases the risks for bad outcomes.'

The biggest obstacle to addressing the issue, Freyd said, is an unwillingness to talk about it, 'and this is very much related to people's unwillingness to believe that it occurs and is so problematic.'

Another obstacle to men's ability to believe such allegations is that previous research by Freyd and her colleagues has shown that men are rarely betrayed by adults close to them, and that when they are abused it is more likely to not be sexual in nature. Women most often are betrayed by adults close to them, and sexual abuse is more readily seen as a threat t
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