April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an initiative to raise awareness around the prevalence of sexual abuse and sexual assault.
As a firm that sees firsthand the devastating effect that sexual abuse has on the victims of such crimes, we are dedicated to doing our part to help raise awareness through the month of April.
We have compiled a list of facts from around the web which we will be sharing every day this month.
We encourage everyone to jump on board with this effort by sharing our posts with their followers on social media.
- In the United States, approximately 1 out of every 4 girls and 1 out of every 6 boys is sexually abused; and girls are more likely to disclose sexual abuse than boys.
- 70 to 73% of child sexual abusers report experiencing sexual abuse in their own childhood.
- Approximately 60% of sexual abusers are known to the child but are not family members, such as family friends, babysitters, or neighbors. While approximately 30% are family members, such as fathers, mothers, brothers, uncles, or cousins.
- It is estimated that less than half of all sexual assaults on children are reported to the police.
- The World Health Organization reports that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual violence globally in 2002.
- The generally lower rate for male sex abuse may be largely inaccurate due to underreporting. Because men are traditionally encouraged to be physically strong and competitive, male victims may be more hesitant to report sexual abuse because they feel they are “less of a man.”
- Child sex abuse includes body contact, such as kissing and oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Sex abuse can also include “flashing” or showing private parts, forcing children to watch pornography, voyeurism (trying to look at a child’s naked body), pressuring children for sex, having sex in front of children, and exploiting children for pornography or prostitution.
- “Child-on-child sexual abuse” occurs when a prepubescent child is abused sexually by another child or children. Often, the child perpetrator has been sexually victimized by an adult previously. “Inter-sibling abuse” occurs when one sibling molests his/her own sibling.
- Researchers note that some disabled children may not be able to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate touching of their body, which leaves them particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse.
- Children living with a single parent or a parent living with an unmarried partner are most at risk for child maltreatment, which is over eight times the rate of children living with married biological parents.
- Child abusers often do not use physical force but instead “groom” or use manipulative tactics, such as buying gifts, arranging special activities, exposing children to pornography, and roughhousing to keep a child engaged with and often confused about the abuser’s motives.
- Researchers report that the vast majority of sexually abused children do not grow up to be offenders and that the “cycle of sexual abuse” does not fully explain why a person would molest children.
- Only a fraction of abusers are caught and convicted for their crimes. Most of those who are caught are eventually released back to the community, albeit under probation or parole supervision.
- Children who are victims of sexual abuse can suffer many serious health effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, somatization, neurosis, chronic pain, sexualized behavior, learning problems, animal cruelty, self-destructive behavior, suicide, antisocial behavior, sleeping difficulties and/or nightmares, angry outbursts, not wanting to be left alone, and further victimization into adulthood. However, not all victims show behavioral changes.
- Sexual abuse, or any kind of abuse, negatively and permanently affects the physical development of a child’s brain. These physical changes result in psychological and emotional problems in adulthood.
- Women who were sexually abused as children reported significantly lower SAT test scores than women who were not abused.
- Children may not reveal sexual abuse because they feel shame or guilt, they worry no one will believe them, they fear being removed from their home, and they or their family may have been threatened. Very young children may not have the language skills to report the abuse or may not understand they are being abused.
- Approximately 23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18.
- Most children do not tell anyone they have been abused, and those who do tell often have to tell several people before any action is taken.
- Approximately 1.3 million children in America are sexually assaulted each year. There are an estimated 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America.
- A 2004 study revealed that 9.6% of public school children, accounting for 4.5 million students, have experienced sexual misconduct, from being told sexual jokes to sexual intercourse by educators. Offenders include teachers (18%), coaches (15%), substitute teachers (13%), principals (6%), and student counselors (5%).
- Researchers stress that it is crucial to respond in a supportive manner if a child discloses abuse. Children who disclose abuse and receive a negative reaction or no reaction at all suffer more from general trauma symptoms, dissociation, and PTSD than those who had supportive responses.
- Most child sex abuse offenders are 10 or more years older than the victim. More than half of child molesters are under the age of 35.
- Male offenders who abused girls have an average of 52 victims each. Men who molested boys had an average of 150 victims each.
- Child molesters come from all backgrounds and social classes. However, most molesters (1) are male, (2) work in an environment surrounded by children, (3) befriend the parents first and then gain the child’s trust, and (4) attend events such as sports, camping, and video arcades.
- Researchers have found that women who were sexually abused as girls repeatedly have a 62% percent higher risk of heart problems later in life compared with other women who were not abused. Much of the risk was related to coping strategies, such as alcohol abuse, overeating, and drug abuse.
- According to the FBI, approximately 1 in 10 men have molested a child, with little chance of being caught (3%). Additionally, the FBI estimates that a child has almost a 25% chance of being molested.
- The FBI estimates that there is a sex offender living in every square mile in the United States. The re-arrest rate for convicted child molesters is 52%.
- Most sexual assaults are committed by the same race as the victim. An exception to this is Native Americans. Those who commit a sexual crime against Native Americans are usually not Native American.
- There is just a small subset of child sexual abusers who are exclusively attracted to just children. A majority of people who abuse children are or have been attracted to adults as well.
Classic signs of sexual abuse include odd injuries, ripped clothes or underwear, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, hyper-sexuality, withdrawal, exceptional fear of a person or certain places, unreasonable fear of a physical exam, drawings that are scary or that use a lot of black and red, and attempts to get other children to perform sexual acts. If you have suspicions of abuse contact Child Protective Services or local Police.