Although research is limited because of sampling and responding rates, we do know that the median age for sexual abuse of both girls and boys is around 8 or 9 years old (Feinauer, 1988; Finkelhor et al., 1990). Boys are more likely to be sexually abused by strangers (40% of boys, 21% of girls), whereas girls are more likely to have family mem­bers as assailants (29% of girls, 11% of boys; Finkelhor et al., 1990).

Finkelhor proposes three reasons why the reported rates of male sexual abuse may be lower than those for females: (1) boys grow up believing that they must be self-reliant and may feel that they should be able to handle the abuse; (2) male sexual abuse gets en­twined with the stigma of homosexuality, because the majority of offenders are male; and (3) because boys often have more freedom than girls in our society, they may have a great deal to lose by reporting a sexual assault (1984, pp. 156-157).

Reactions to abuse vary. Many victims are scared to reveal the abuse, either because of shame, fear of retaliation, belief that they themselves are to blame, or fear that they will not be believed. Some incest victims try to get help only if they fear that a younger sibling is threatened. When they do get help, younger victims are more likely to go to a relative for help, whereas older victims may run away or enter into early marriages to es­cape the abuse (J. L. Herman, 1981). Victims of incest with a biological father delay re­porting the longest, whereas those who have been victims of stepfather or live-in part­ners have been found to be more likely to tell someone more readily (Faller, 1989).