Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The "vampire syndrome" myth

I want to spend some time exposing the truth behind the so-called "vampire myth" - the myth that male sexual abuse survivors more often than not end up becoming sexual predators. This terrible myth is among the most powerful factors that contribute to silencing abused boys.

MYTH: Most sexual predators were victims of child abuse themselves

The scientific argument:

This is based on many studies that were done on convicted sex-offenders. The flaw in these studies are that they rely on self-reporting. And no only self-reporting, but self-reporting by people who are in desperate need of something that could justify their own actions, and who are well aware of this myth. The number of inmates who reported being victimised as children are significantly lower in studies where polygraph tests were used.

The logical argument:

Different sources have different figures, but one thing that is constant is the fact that paedophiles/sex-offenders tend to molest many children over their lifetime. Some sources put the number as high as 260. Now, if every paedophile molests many children, and the vast majority of these grew up to be paedophiles, why does the one in six statistic for boys who are abused, not increase? If this myth was true, the vast majority of men would be paedophiles by now.

Myth: Male sexual abuse survivors are doomed to become predators themselves.

Male sexual abuse survivors are human beings and, just like any other human being, they have free will and the ability to choose. If a survivor becomes a predator, that was a choice he made.

Lets be fair and realistic - all decisions are made from a subjective place. It is possible to groom a boy well enough for him to think that abusing children are acceptable, or even the right thing to do. This is why it is so important that abused boys get help as early as possible - something that is often prevented by this very myth. It is interesting to note that among the abuse survivors who do become predators, very few have received psychiatric help. The key to breaking the cycle and an enabling victims to become true survivors who can make good decisions, is to give them a space where they can speak up, and get help.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Well, here are some:

When offenders were polygraphed and offered immunity,

  • The average number of victims reported were between 5 and 6 times more.
  • The percent who reported being sexually abused as a child, dropped from about 2 in 3, to 1 in 3.
  • The percent who reported abusing other as a child, rose from 1 in 5 to 7 in 10
Interestingly, the variance is even higher for juvenile offenders.

Another interesting statistic is that ratio between female and male victims, that was roughly 4:1 without polygraphs, were much closer to 1:1 when offenders were polygraphed and offered immunity.

These statistics were replicated in multiple studies.
So what is the point of these statistics? To prove that the myth that most sex-offenders were sexually abused as children, is false. It also shows how sex-offenders lie, rather than admit the truth about their offences to scientists, even after being convicted.

I appeal to all male child-abuse survivors - lets stand up, speak up, and tell the world that we did not grow up to resemble out perpetrators, and that we will no longer accept being judged for something that was done to us without our consent.

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