The effect of child sexual abuse on men: towards a male sensitive measure

Patrick O'Leary, Scott D. Easton, Nick Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (SciVal)


Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a trauma that affects males in substantial
numbers, sometimes in ways that are gender-specific (e.g., compromised
masculine identity, confusion regarding sexuality). Much of the identification
of the male-specific outcomes has been derived from practitioner experience
and small qualitative studies. The current study explores gender-specific
outcomes and describes the development of a scale to measure the effects
of CSA on men. First, qualitative interviews with 20 men who were sexually
abused in childhood were thematically analyzed. The emergent themes of
sexuality, self-concept, psychological and emotional well-being, and social
functioning were used to construct a 30-item instrument which was later
completed by 147 men with histories of CSA. The dimensionality of the
30 items was then assessed for suitability as scales using confirmatory
factor analysis (CFA). The final instrument, the Male Sexual Abuse Effects
Scale (MSAES), combines three subscales: Negative Identity, Guilt and
Self-Blame, and Psychological and Emotional Well-Being. Items concerning
masculine identity were shown to be valid in the scale. MSAES scores were
compared with the General Health Questionnaire–28 (GHQ-28) and found
to be significantly correlated. GHQ-28 clinical thresholds were applied to
differentiate clinical from nonclinical cases; an independent-samples t test
showed that the clinical cases from the GHQ-28 had high scores on the
MSAES. The new scale has the potential to help clinicians and researchers
identify men who have been severely affected by CSA and who should be of
clinical concern.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-445
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • child sexual abuse
  • males
  • mental health


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