Research shows that children are sexually abused most between ages 8-12 and occurs in rural, urban, and suburban areas, among all ethnic groups. Often abuse is allowed to continue for generations because of bullying to maintain a code of secrecy. You’ve all heard the code, “No one needs to know.” A code that is broken now that I’m a parent. Unlike my household growing up, I turned “no one needs to know” into “no secretes in my house.” The above YouTube post My Story: Sexual Abuse is a good example of how child sexual abuse starts.
“No one needs to know,” is a statement that haunted me from the ages of 6 to 17. At 17 I was able to free myself from that toxic environment and shape the life I wanted. However, the shame and guilt I carry as an adult has shaped me into the advocate and protector I am today. I choose to turn my experience into action because we as a society need to explore ways to address child sexual abuse. If we fail to act, the data published in Healthy Place – American Mental Health Channel will continue:
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men report that they were sexually abused as a child;
- Many African Americans think that child sexual abuse is more typical among white people;
- Statistics show that blacks are sexually victimized in childhood at about the same rates as whites;
- African-American women are less likely than white women to involve police in cases of child sexual abuse. Fears about betraying the family by turning abusers into “the system” and distrust of institutions and authorities often lead blacks to remain silent about “family business;”
- Boys are also abused: About 14 percent of all young victims of sexual assault are male, according to police reports. Twenty percent of sexual abuse of boys is committed by women. Among African Americans, homophobia perpetuates the denial of sexual abuse of boys;
- Black women report being more severely abused with greater force. They also report “more upset, greater long-term effects and more negative life experiences” from sexual abuse than white women. Among the effects: post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse (drug abuse), self-mutilation and more;
- Young and troubled: Adolescents commit 23 percent of all sex offenses. Experts say young abusers are more responsive to treatment than adults;
- Child sex offenders tend to victimize more often than other sexual offenders. Seventy percent of child sex offenders had between one and nine victims; 23 percent between 10 and 40 victims;
- Quiet as it’s kept: Child sexual abusers operate in silence and isolation, the tools they use to target and control their prey. Few tend to be violent, which makes them difficult to catch and thwart.
America needs to pull together and bring light to this silent epidemic. We could drastically lower the percentages of anti-social behavior that is acted out in violence, drugs, and repeat sexual abuse within all American families.
I remember when I was a kid growing up I vowed to protect my own kids if I had them. And I do have two wonderful boys. I can’t help but to feel sick with worry that some twisted person will try to do something to my boys. It’s because of them that I choose to stand up. My boys ARE and WILL be protected.
If you are a victim of child sexual abuse and you choose to stand up expect to be bullied. The poster in the YouTube video told us how everyone blamed her mother for the abuse. She also went on to tell us how her friends joked about the abuse she experienced. I agree with the YouTube poster that the mother is not to blame. Additionally, I understand the anger you feel when family and friends want to place blame in the wrong places. The first time I spoke out about abuse I received the COLD shoulder from just about everyone I knew. In fact, some people thought I was using my story to somehow gain sympathy for being out of work. At least that was the common response I heard from the ‘peanut gallery’ while living in Massachusetts. That notion was and is R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S.
As you begin the journey of taking a stand, remember those who seek retaliation for your abuse usually are those carrying the most guilt about it happening. They often feel like you are telling your story to get back at them. Just make sure you express that you are standing up for yourself and protecting your children from sexual abuse.
Arm yourself today friends and make sure your child, or a child you know, is protected from child sexual abuse. Tomorrow will be too late.
- National Children’s Advocacy Center Online Training
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Stop It Now!
- Healthy Place
- What To Expect: Victims of Sexual Abuse