Despite the available literature on disclosure of child sexual abuse (CSA), little is known about how gender affects disclosure. This article aims to quantitatively examine whether gender differences exist in formal (to legal or child protection authorities) and informal (to a family member or friend) disclosure of CSA and, if so, to assess whether this relation is associated with abuse characteristics and attitudes toward gender roles. The study also aimed to examine whether gender differences exist in reasons not to disclose CSA. Data of a sample of 586 participants, who reported to have experienced CSA committed by a single person, have been used for the analyses. There were no gender differences for formal disclosure, but the informal disclosure rate of CSA was 2.4 times higher for women than men, and this effect remained significant after controlling for abuse characteristics and attitudes, even though the gender difference decreased slightly. Furthermore, women and men reported different reasons for not disclosing CSA in their personal network. Women were more worried than men that family and friends would discover the abuse and reported more insecurity of what to do in this situation. Professionals in the field of CSA should consider a gender perspective when developing guidelines. Men have rarely been the subject of studies of disclosure after CSA. Professionals should focus more on general mental health outcomes of men that are not related with CSA directly, but where the effects of CSA may exert more indirectly through associations with other problems in life.
- child sexual abuse
- quantitative study