Improving responses to men sexually abused in childhood: Confronting the complexity

This symposium was presented by Griffith University and Living Well, on Thursday 12th June 2014, in celebration of International Men's Health Week. It covered current research and practice evidence about the impact of child sexual abuse on men, the difficulties they can confront in accessing support, the development of appropriate interventions, and innovations in service delivery. Watch videos of the presentations and download the powerpoint slides below.

Context for the Symposium

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has placed unprecedented public attention on the significant problem of child sexual abuse and its long terms negative impacts. The Royal Commission has highlighted in particular the problem of the sexual abuse of boys and the limited support for male survivors: nearly two thirds of those who have attended Royal Commission private hearings have been male. To date, how best to respond to men sexually abused in childhood has not been the subject of considered public policy and practice discussion (absent from the National Male Health Policy and the National 'Promoting Good Practice in Suicide Prevention: Activities Targeting Men' policy document). During International Men's Health Week we held this symposium to highlight this important issue affecting many men, their partners, friends and families.

Topics included

  • Prevalence & characteristics of sexual abuse of males
  • Acknowledging effects of abuse
  • Working with trauma
  • Managing emotions
  • Victimisation & offending experiences
  • Sexuality
  • Masculinity
  • Well-being & hope
  • Policy & service innovations

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The presentations


Justice Peter McClellan - Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Watch the video.

The next wave: Men sexually abused and traumatised as children

The key note presentation by David Lisak PhD.

Watch the video

Download a PDF version of the powerpoint slides here [pdf1 Mb]


David Lisak PhD is a US based nationally recognised forensic consultant, trainer, and lecturer. His research and applied forensic work on non-stranger rapists has helped guide rape prevention and response policies in major institutions, including the U.S. Armed Services and numerous colleges and universities. The research he conducted on male survivors of childhood sexual abuse has helped focus public attention and spur new initiatives. He is a founding board member of 1in6, a national non-profit devoted to helping men who were sexually abused as children. David has conducted workshops and trainings in all 50 states, in Canada and overseas. He also serves as an expert witness in both criminal and civil cases and has testified in state and federal courts across the country. Himself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, David was one of three men profiled in the documentary Boys and Men Healing.

Understanding the long term effects of childhood sexual abuse on men and their relationships

Presented by Associate Professor Judith Cashmore.

Watch the video.

Download the PDF version of the presentation here [pdf960 Kb]


Associate Professor Judith Cashmore AO has a PhD in developmental psychology and a Masters degree in education. Her research concerns children's involvement in civil and criminal proceedings and other processes in which decisions are made about children's lives. The special focus of this research has been on children's experience and perceptions of the process and the implications for social policy. She has worked as a consultant to various government agencies and been involved in numerous state and federal government committees concerning children and families. Judy has been an appointed Member of the Judicial Commission of New South Wales since 2004, and is Adjunct Professor at Southern Cross University. She and her colleague and co-researcher, Professor Patrick Parkinson AM, have been jointly awarded the 2013 Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) for outstanding research and/or research achievements in the field of family and divorce.

Men: Disclosure and coping with the long term effects of childhood sexual abuse - Implications

Presented by Professor Patrick J. O'Leary.

Watch the video.

Download the PDF of the presentation here [pdf950 Kb]


Professor Patrick J. O'Leary is the Head of the School of Human Services and Social Work at Griffith University. For more than twenty years Patrick has had an interest in gender based violence and child protection. His research on the long-term effects of child sexual abuse has primarily focused on men. This research is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies on Australian men who were sexually abused in childhood, it has been published widely in high quality journals such as Child Abuse and Neglect and the British Journal of Social Work. Recently he has been working with Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings. Patrick is the former Director of the International Child Well Being Research Centre at the University of Southampton, United Kingdom. This work has seen him examine child protection in a variety of international contexts most recently including in Middle East.

Testing the sexual abuse to sexual offending hypothesis: A Queensland birth cohort study

Presented by Professor Stephen Smallbone.

Watch the video.

Download the PDF here [pdf56Kb]


Professor Stephen Smallbone is a psychologist and Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University, Director of Griffith Youth Forensic Service, and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. His publications include the books Situational Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse (Wortley & Smallbone, 2006, Criminal Justice Press), Child Pornography on the Internet (Wortley & Smallbone, 2006, U.S. Dept of Justice), Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: Evidence, Policy and Practice (Smallbone, Marshall, & Wortley, 2008, Willan), and Internet Child Pornography: Causes, Investigation, and Prevention (Wortley & Smallbone, 2012, Praeger). He is the incoming editor of The Journal of Sexual Aggression.

Gender, sexuality, and trauma informed responses

Presented by Dr Gary Foster.

Watch the video.

Download a PDF of the powerpoint slides here [pdf1.93 Mb]


Dr Gary Foster's work and research interests centre on addressing the problems of violence. He currently manages the Living Well Service that provides assistance to men who have been sexually abused in childhood or sexually assaulted as an adult, as well as to their partners, families and friends ( Gary's doctoral thesis Male Rape and the Government of Bodies examined the limits of current understandings and governmental responses to the problem of male rape. He was a police officer in the Metropolitan Police for 15 years, coordinating a domestic violence unit and designated chaperone, investigator responding to sexual violence. Gary has taught at the University of Queensland in the areas of violence, gender, and sexuality. He has presented at national and international conferences in relation to working with men subjected to sexual violence and in 2013 co-authored a revised edition of Living Well: A Guide for Men.

Embracing complexity: Group and individual responses with men who were subjected to childhood sexual abuse

Presented by Dr Cameron Boyd.

Watch the video.

Download the PDF slides here [pdf3.08 Mb]


Dr Cameron Boyd is based in Melbourne. He works at the Northern Centre Against Sexual Assault, as a Counsellor/Advocate with people who have been sexually abused. In 2013 he completed his PhD at Deakin University, looking at how psychological measurement has produced and shaped professional understandings of the effects of child sexual abuse. Cameron has worked in a range of counselling, community and research settings over the last 20 years, focussing primarily on issues affecting people who have been subjected to abuse and violence.

The next wave: Are we ready to meet the challenge?

Presented by David Lisak PhD.

Q and A discussion panel


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