Gay and bisexual men's age-discrepant childhood sexual experiences
Journal of Sex Research
This study examined childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in gay and bisexual men. We compared the conventional definition of CSA based on age difference with a modified definition of CSA based on perception to evaluate which definition best accounted for problems in adjustment. The sample consisted of 192 gay and bisexual men recruited from a randomly selected community sample. Men's descriptions of their CSA experiences were coded from taped interviews. Fifty men (26%) reported sexual experiences before age 17 with someone at least 5 years older, constituting CSA according to the age-based definition. Of these men, 24 (49%) perceived their sexual experiences as negative, coercive, and/or abusive and thus were categorized as perception-based CSA. Participants with perception-based CSA experiences reported higher levels of maladjustment than non-CSA participants. Participants with age-based CSA experiences who perceived their sexual experience as non-negative, noncoercive, and nonabusive were similar to non-CSA participants in their levels of adjustment. These findings suggest that a perception-based CSA definition more accurately represents harmful CSA experiences in gay and bisexual men than the conventional age-based definition.