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Wed Jul 26, 2017, 03:48 PM

Chester Bennington's life may help male sex abuse victims speak up

(CNN)Many fans are shocked and heartbroken over the loss this week of Chester Bennington, the fierce lead singer for the rock band Linkin Park. Police say they are treating his death as a possible suicide, which would make the pain even harder to bear.

There's a famous saying, "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." That may be true. But in this case, as a clinical psychologist and researcher who specializes in trauma, I don't think I'm overreaching in saying that his troubled past may have been a factor in his death. Chester Bennington had openly said he was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse that haunted him and, he said, contributed to his excessive use of drugs and alcohol.

For far too long, boys and men who have been sexually abused or assaulted have been overlooked, neglected, minimized or stigmatized by society and, at times, by the health care community. It's time for that disregard to stop.

One study in the United States estimated that one in six males are sexually abused at some point during their childhood. Let's stop and think about that for just a second. Picture all the boys and men you know, and then breathe that statistic in. That may include your father, your husband/lover, your boss, co-workers, coaches and friends.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are at an increased risk of developing a wide range of medical, psychological, behavioral and sexual disorders. Indeed, a meta-analysis of published research on the effects of child sexual abuse verified the extensive and subsequent negative short- and long-term effects.

For example, sexual trauma is related to psychiatric disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and dependence, depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior. In addition, many male survivors of sexual abuse also have negative body image, revulsion to being touched or touching others, lack of confidence in their appeal and attractiveness, sexual dysfunction from low sexual desire to difficulties achieving and maintaining an erection and retarded ejaculation.

Sexual trauma is also linked to medical illnesses, increased use of health care services and poor quality of life. Yet the majority of the research on sexual abuse, including the development and testing of psychosocial interventions, focuses on women. This is not OK and must change in order to help the many people like Chester Bennington.

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This is an important look into the lives of male sexual assault survivors and the challenges faced by them.

to IronLionZion for posting this in the Sexual Assault Survivors Support Group.

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