rape child sex abuse

Over 20 Percent Of Children Are Sexually Abused, Do I have Your Attention Now? What You Can Do [Opinion]

Full disclosure: I am a child sex abuse survivor (from the hands of a pedophile), so the topics of rape and child sex abuse hit close to home with me. But the below commentary on rape and child sex abuse is not based on my opinion, but rather, extensive research and facts. Through hard work I transcended through my issues, and I share my story through my book and speaking engagements. But you don’t have to be a survivor or professional to help. There is something we all can do to help change the horrific statistics, and to help victims.

Rape and child sex abuse are taboo topics that are horrific and disturbing, and because of this, it is hard to listen to and tempting to ignore. Just the words “rape,” “molestation,” “sex abuse,” and “pedophilia,” are likely to make people cringe or to become nauseous; so I get the desire to not think about it. But far too many people are victims of these deplorable acts, and not taking action is no longer an option. The numbers and statistics below are stunning, but I urge you to keep reading so you can learn how to help others and how you can make a difference.

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Rape And Child Sex Abuse Statistics

Because so many victims of child sex abuse and rape don’t report it, it’s hard to get a handle on how many people are victims of these atrocities. But there is data out there that gives us an idea, and the results are eye-opening. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has reported, and the majority of professionals agree, the following child sex abuse statistics.

“1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. However, because child sexual abuse is by its very nature secretive, many of these cases are never reported.”

The majority of child sex abuse victims, approximately 75 percent of reported cases, know their perpetrator. Often, they are either a direct relative or someone who is close to the family or the child. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that with rape, “91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female.” And in “eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them.”

These numbers are unacceptable.

What You Can Do

Often when someone who is not a victim of sexual abuse or rape hears the statistics, their heart goes out to the victims and then they feel like there is nothing they can do to help. This isn’t true. The Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute shares the following statistics.

“Fact one: Today, 95 percent of child molestation can be prevented. We have the knowledge to stop it. Fact two: Today, living in the United States, there are 39 million adults who have survived child sexual abuse. Fact three: Today, more than three million American children are victims. Most of them are children, struggling alone, believing there is no adult who can help.”

They also have found that, “child molesters exist in every part of our society,” and that “they molest children close to them, mainly children in their family or in their social circle.”

One of the main reasons that 95 percent of child sex abuse isn’t being prevented, is that people are ignoring the uncomfortable topic and not taking action. So it’s time to take action, because there are things you can do to prevent your child, or a child close to you, from becoming a victim of child sex abuse.

Of course, you can’t protect your child 100 percent of the time, which is why it is vitally important to take every measure you can to keep them as safe as possible. There are also steps people can take to make themselves less likely to be raped or sexually assaulted.

Educate Your Child At An Early Age

As parents we try to protect our children, and because of this, sometimes parents don’t bring up serious topics when their children are young. This is a grave mistake. A child is never too young to learn about this topic. ChildMind has plenty of great tips on how to teach your kids about child sex abuse, like “talking about body parts early, teach your child body boundaries, body secrets are not okay, teach your child how to get out of scary or uncomfortable situations,” and several more.

It is also important to become very involved in your child’s life. Know who they are hanging out with, including other children, and those children’s parents. Ask questions frequently about the kids they go to school with, the parents, the teachers, and coaches. When you ask about these people openly and often, your child will feel comfortable sharing stories about them and are more likely to come forward if they feel uncomfortable being around someone.

Screen Caregivers Very Carefully

Whether it’s a babysitter, daycare, or an after school program, screen the caregivers of your children carefully. The Rape Abuse and Incest Network has great materials for screening caregivers which will help prevent child sex abuse.

Know The Signs Of Child Sex Abuse

If a child has been sexually abused then the earlier they get help the better. It doesn’t matter how close a child is to you or how strong that bond is; to assume that they would tell you is another mistake that parents often make. So it’s important to know the following signs of child sex abuse.

  • Acting out in a sexual manner with toys or objects
  • Sleeping issues or constant nightmares
  • Becoming withdrawn or very clingy. Often, parents excuse this behavior as just thinking their child is shy. And it might be that they are just shy, but look into it to make sure.
  • Your child becomes very secretive.
  • Regressing with certain behaviors like bed-wetting.
  • Unexplained fear of specific people or places.
  • Changes in eating habits and outbursts of anger.
  • Unexplained gifts or money from a new friend (often older).
  • Consistent pain during urination or bowel movements.

Parents Protect provides other signs of child sex abuse.

Listen And Believe The Victims Of Rape And Child Sex Abuse

Children rarely make up stories about being sexually abused, but often it’s easier for a family member to believe it is a lie. Because it’s easier to accept that a child made up a story, rather than face the fact their child was a victim of abuse. So if a child tells you that they have been abused — believe them.

It’s also important to understand that most people who are sexually abused do not become abusers. Abuse victims often have a troubled life centered on violence or illegal activity, but the sex abuse is not “passed on.” Most men don’t admit that they were sexually abused for a few reasons. One of them being that they have a fear that others will assume they also have that desire. This myth needs to be disposed of because it is toxic.

Most women don’t make up stories about rape. Again, it’s easier for people to think that their friend or spouse is inventing a story rather than have to face the fact that this deplorable act happened to them. Roger Williams University reports that a study of rape found that, “statistical studies indicate false reports make up two percent or less of the reported cases of sexual assault. This figure is approximately the same for other types of crimes.”

So if a woman close to you says they have been sexually assaulted or that they are the victim of rape — listen. Believe them, because they need your comfort and understanding more than skepticism. Simply listening to someone sharing their story of rape, and acknowledging it, does more for the victim than you realize.

Although most rape victims are women, there are a great number of men who have been raped as well. Police and Public Safety has many tips to help prevent rape and sexual assault.

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Resources For Victims

The National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse is a great resource for those who are victims of child sex abuse. The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network has many resources for victims of sexual assault or rape. I know how hard it can be to admit that you were a victim of these crimes, but it’s not your fault. It’s very important that you reach out and seek help so that you can begin to heal.

The Bottom Line

There are great measures we can take to help our children from being the next victim of child sex abuse. There are also steps we can take to help prevent sexual assault or rape. Use the resources in this article to learn more so that you can become involved and help. But ignoring these issues only makes the situation worse. And for those that feel this topic is just too unbearable to think about, then think about this; by the time it took you to read this article there has already been another victim of rape or child sex abuse.

[Featured Image by MonkeyBusinessImages/Thinkstock]

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