Men’s Experiences of Self-Conscious Emotions Following Childhood Sexual Abuse

Leah Drewitt-Smith, Magda Marczak

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Rates of detection and disclosure of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are believed to be lower in males due to gender socialization fears. The experience of CSA is thought to increase negative self-conscious emotions (shame, guilt, embarrassment, anger, and fear). Such self-conscious emotions have been associated with a range of mental and public health issues. As there has been no research to date that has explored the experience of shame and guilt within the wider context of self-conscious emotional states for males, this research aimed to explore men’s experiences of self-conscious emotions following CSA. Nine semi-structured interviews with males were completed. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis identified three themes: “Invisible In This World” captures participants’ isolating circumstances surrounding their CSA, and how this impacted their perception of not being protected or able to speak out; “The Emotional Fallout” describes the overwhelming emotions experienced as a result of the CSA and how such emotions have impacted participants lives, and “Learning To Live With The Wound That May Never Heal” addresses how participants have spent their lives living with the abuse and how it’s a process to learn how to adapt and live with the abuse. Findings suggest there is a clear need to recognize the role and power of self-conscious emotions in male CSA, especially for healthcare professionals and services supporting males with CSA. Without addressing such self-conscious emotions, males who have experienced CSA are at risk of enduring the emotional fallout throughout their lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-693
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number6
Early online date9 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


  • males
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • self-conscious emotions
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis


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