Coping Among Ethnic Men Sexually Abused as Children

Project Summary

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) among males has frequently not been recognized, with a resulting underreporting of males as victims of CSA. The lack of awareness of men as sexual victims has been accompanied by a dearth of empirical studies on male CSA and attendant issues, such as the long-term psychological, behavioral and physical consequences experienced by such men. This study, focuses on ethnic minority men who have experienced CSA. It is interested in the relationships among coping strategies and mental and physical health for people with a history of CSA. The ultimate goal of this study is to elucidate these relationships for the eventual design of interventions to address the consequences of CSA. This study has the following aims:

  1. To determine if there are ethnic differences in the use of various coping strategies (e.g., religious/spiritual coping, escape-avoidance, seeking social support, etc.) among men sexually abused as children;
  2. To determine the relationships between various coping strategies, symptoms of depression and biomarkers of depression and chronic stress reflecting allostatic load, a composite of biomarkers representing cumulative stress history, among each of the ethnic groups; and,
  3. To determine the relationships between various coping strategies and the utilization of mental health services among those with demonstrated need for such services for each ethnic group.

One hundred and fifty men with a history of CSA will be recruited, with equal representations of African Americans, Latinos and non-Latino Whites. Participants will be recruited through a variety of means. Assessments will be made for depression, substance abuse, coping strategies, use of mental health services, and various covariates. Finally, urine and saliva samples and routine health indicators (e.g., body mass index and blood pressure) will be obtained to measure the cumulative biological effects of trauma ("allostatic load"). We plan to use this information as the basis for an R01 to develop interventions to reduce depression among men with CSA.

Current status: Project live