“This is a very tough subject to address, but the faster an individual talks about it, or notices that something is not right and speaks up for someone else, the faster that person can heal and their situation get better.”
If there is one piece of advice that helps a victim, their friends and family of sexual abuse to move forward is to SPEAK OUT!! If a victim can't speak out or they are afraid it is up to you to be their voice! Approaching a trustworthy adult in either case is highly important. Neither the victim, nor the person who the victim confides in is ever alone!
Sexual abuse involves forcing, tricking, threatening or pressuring someone into sexual awareness or activity. Sexual abuse can be physical, verbal or emotional, and occurs when an older or more knowledgeable child, youth or adult uses someone younger for sexual pleasure. The abuse often begins gradually and increases over time. It can include sexual touching, fondling, penetration or exposing children to adult sexual activity including pornographic movies and photographs.
Incest, which is defined as sexual relations of any kind with either a biological or non-biologically related person who functions in the role of a family member, is also considered sexual abuse. Unfortunately, in many cases trusted adults are the actual abusers. These may include parents and step-parents uncles, aunts, siblings, cousins, grandparents, coaches, baby sitters, clergy, teachers, and the list goes on.
The use of physical force, known as sexual assault is rarely necessary to engage a child in sexual activity because children are trusting, dependent and fearful. Children are taught not to question authority and afraid of the consequences, accepting what has been taught to them - that is - adults are always right. Even though many times a child knows something is wrong, they choose not to speak out because they are afraid of getting in trouble, and in some cases, don't want to get the perpetrator in trouble because they genuinely love this person.
But Perpetrators of child sexual abuse know this, and take advantage of these vulnerabilities in children and youth.
Know someone who has been sexually abused? Click here for some advice on how to comfort them.
Check out these statistics from RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National network). They are very eye-opening!
- 15% of sexual assault and rape cases occur in children under the age of 12, with 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault perpetuated by someone they know.
- Of those assaults, 34.2 percent of attackers were family members, 58.7 percent were acquaintances and only 7 percent were complete strangers.
- Sexual victimization is associated with severe and enduring behavioral consequences for victims, including increased drug and alcohol use, domestic violence, depression, suicide and teenage pregnancy. (Seymour et al. 1992).
Remember it is never okay for someone to assault, touch you without consent, or abuse you for any reason.