Attribution of blame
Survivors generally believe that they were responsible for the abuse. Often, survivors as children
had received direct messages from the offender that they were to blame for the abuse. Survivors might also have received blaming
from significant others. Many survivors relate experiences of being punished for their 'naughty' behaviour when they
disclosed the abuse. Male survivors often blame themselves, not necessarily for instigating the abuse, but for failing to
protect themselves against the offender. These beliefs are rooted in societal prescriptions that males are not victims
and should be powerful enought to protect themelves from the intrusion and aggrression of others.
Reframing the attribution of blame from an adult perspective involves survivors coming to accept
tat the offender, not themselves, was responsible for the abusive sexual activity. This is true regardless of the engagement
strategies employed by the offender.
Childhood sexual responsiveness
Many survivors responded physically with pleasure or arousal during the abuse experience, and therefore
concluded that as children they enjoyed the experience. Males, who are the victims of same-sex abuse may believe that such
responses represent latent homosexual desires.
Reframing the issue of sexual responsiveness from an adult perspective involves survivors realizing
that the sensations they experienced as children were natural physiological reactions to sexual stimulation. Arousal in childhood
does not indicate that the child either sought or enjoyed the sexual experience.
Survivors often reach adulthood with the belief that they were singled out for the abuse because
of inherent characteristics they possessed as children. This belief is especially prevalent if they were the only victim within
Reframing the 'why me?' from an adult perspective involves survivors coming to appreciate that they
were chosen as a victim, not because of any inherent personality characteristics, but because of factors related to the offender's
motives or to the families dynamics.
Having kept the secret
Many survivors experience self-blame because they never told anyone of the abuse and therefore did
not stop it. This concern is more salient if the abuse went on for a long time, if the child was older when the
abuse started, if the 'engagement strategies' did not involvethe use of force, and if the child had no role in stopping
Reframing this belief from an adult perspective involves survivors considering their assumptions
as children regarding the consequences of disclosure. It is also important for survivors to consider that telling others,
a proactive behaviour, was simply not in their behavioural repertoire as a child.