We had a politician once who used these words to the dismay of the American public. But I’ve heard them or some close example of them many times regarding child sexual abuse. A friend of mine whose daughter and mother had both been sexually abused as children said “since it’s so rampant why do we worry about it?” (I’m paraphrasing here since it was many years ago) Let’s see. Murder is rampant so why do we worry about it?
It blows my mind to hear people who lecture victims on the importance of keeping their mouths shut. Mom will be angry; Dad will be in a worse rage; your siblings will lecture you on making a big deal out of something that happened a long time ago. Get over it and move on with your life. Or worse, it’s not bad, why are you feeling so sorry for yourself; it only happened one time so stop making an issue out of it and one that was told to me in the middle of my recovery, You were already thirteen so it can’t have had much of an impact. If you were younger it might have been different. (by this time I was kept from being suicidal by meds, I had been hospitalized in a psychiatric ward twice for failed suicide attempts, I had been married to three abusers and had the ensuing domestic violence difficulties, I had been raped and beat up by the last two, I spent time in a women’s shelter – does any of this sound like it couldn’t have much of an impact?) When I was in my late teens there used to be a “joke” circulating, “Incest is okay as long as you keep in the family.” That never failed to produce loud laughter, except for me. I got sick to my stomach and felt a dreaded fear enter my body. I had no idea why I felt that way. It would be a couple decades before I would begin recovery.
These examples I’m citing are only a few of the debilitating and insensitive comments made by others. Child sexual abuse is not a popular subject so poking fun at it or deriding it is the way people who need educating refer to it. It brings pictures to their minds that are too disgusting to even give credence to. Mostly they just feel, what difference at this point does it make?
I’m here to do some educating. The truth as per the National Center for Victims of Crime reports:
The prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine because it is often not reported; experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities. CSA is also not uniformly defined, so statistics may vary. Statistics below represent some of the research done on child sexual abuse.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau report Child Maltreatment 2010 found that 9.2% of victimized children were sexually assaulted (page 24).
Studies by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that:
• 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
• Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
• During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
• Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
• Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.
According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well.
A Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows 1.6 % (sixteen out of one thousand) of children between the ages of 12-17 were victims of rape/sexual assault.
A study conducted in 1986 found that 63% of women who had suffered sexual abuse by a family member also reported a rape or attempted rape after the age of 14. Recent studies in 2000, 2002, and 2005 have all concluded similar results.
Children who had an experience of rape or attempted rape in their adolescent years were 13.7 times more likely to experience rape or attempted rape in their first year of college.
A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.
Children who do not live with both parents as well as children living in homes marked by parental discord, divorce, or domestic violence, have a higher risk of being sexually abused.
In the vast majority of cases where there is credible evidence that a child has been penetrated, only between 5 and 15% of those children will have genital injuries consistent with sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse is not solely restricted to physical contact; such abuse could include non-contact abuse, such as exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography.
Compared to those with no history of sexual abuse, young males who were sexually abused were five times more likely to cause teen pregnancy, three times more likely to have multiple sexual partners and two times more likely to have unprotected sex, according to the study published online and in the June print issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Does anyone, after reading these statistics, still think “What difference at this point does it make?”
(The website for National Center for Victims of Crime can be found at: http://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics)
More information about the long term results of child sexual abuse can be found at the following website: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about_ace.html