Sexual Abuse

SEXUAL ABUSE: (As reportable under The Child Abuse/ Neglect Law):  The use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child, under the age of 18, to engage in, or having a child assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct by those responsible for the child’s care, custody, and control.

How do I know if it’s really sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse can involve any of the following:

  • Coercion
  • Force
  • Threat
  • Temptation
  • Persuasion

The statistics are shocking:

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the internet.
  • Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults occur to children ages 17 and under.
  • 30-40% of survivors are abused by a family member, another 50% are abused by someone they know,  but only 10% are abused by strangers.
  • An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse exist in America today.

What should I do if I have been sexually abused? Children/teens should tell someone they can trust — a parent, teacher, police officer, or call Protective Services in their county. You may also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

What are some dangers?

  • Sexual abuse may lead to loss of trust, lowered self esteem, and development of shame, guilt, anxiety and depression.
  • In severe cases it can lead to eating disorders, self abuse, substance abuse, suicide, promiscuity/prostitution, and other psycho-behavioral issues.

What does treatment involve? Since most sexual abuse survivors are traumatized and often suffering from PTSD, best treatments include coping/skills-focused treatments, cognitive therapy, and EMDR which may combine eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing.  As with most frightening events, a survivor may never forget the incident(s), but can learn new ways of coping effectively.

Submitted by Lindsay Cooper, LLMSW, Wentworth & Associates

If you are in crisis please call 1-800-273-8255 to speak to someone 24/7.

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