This paper is presented in two versions. The first was published in Archives of Sexual
Vol. 38 (5),pp. 626-630. The second is the unpublished original full version.

Boyhood Sexual Experiences with Older Males: Using the Internet for Behavioral Research

©2009 by Archives of Sexual Behavior, posted by permission.

Self-reported Effects and Retrospective Perceptions of Sexually Expressed
Boyhood Relationships with Older Males: an Internet Convenience Sample

©2008 by David L. Riegel.

Boyhood sexual experiences with older males currently are viewed by many professionals and the lay public as generally traumatic when they occur and intensely psychologically damaging afterwards, but the relatively recent research that is used to support these views is largely based on clinical and legal samples. In contrast, research based on non-clinical, non-legal populations indicates that reactions and effects are often more benign. However, these findings have been ignored or dismissed under the dominance of the child sexual abuse paradigm. The present study sought to replicate and extend the earlier research based on non-clinical, non-legal samples. Respondents who are normally inaccessible to researchers because of the taboo of openly discussing this type of sexual relationship outside the accepted discourse of trauma and harm were recruited via the Internet where they could respond anonymously. Results, based on a sample of 103 men aged 18 through their 60s from more than half a dozen countries, were consistent with the earlier non-clinical, non-legal research. Respondents varied widely in their perceptions of consent, reactions at the time, and long-term effects; however, the majority reported that they consented (in the “simple,” non-legal sense), enjoyed the sexual experiences at the time, and experienced no ill effects afterwards. The present sample is unrepresentative of the general population, as are clinical and legal samples; its utility lies in critically testing assumptions of universal trauma and harm found in the victimological paradigm, which it contradicts.

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