The more facts that are revealed through studies and first hand experiences from victims, the more horrifying and alarming the reality of sexual abuse and molestation of children have become in our society. What makes even more scary, is the fact that the perpetuation of sexual abuse starts off a continuum of consequences that links into a viciouscircle whereby most often, sexual abuse offenders have been a disorders Later on in life which in turn creates in them monsters unleashed on some other victims, and the circle of terror continues!
Findings include statistics on the incidence of sexual assault, the victims, their offenders, gender, response to these crimes, locality, time of incident, the levels of victim injury, victims' perceptions of offenders' ages, and victim-offender relationships, and other detailed characteristics.
Highlights from recent investigations as reported to law enforcement reveal that; 67% of victims of sexual assault were juveniles (underage 18); 34% of sexual assault victims were under age 12:
1 of every 7 victims of sexual assault was under age 6;
40% of offenders who victimized children under age 6 were juveniles (underage 18).
Girls are sexually abused three times more often than boys while
Boys have greater risk of emotional neglect and serious injury than girls.
When sexually abused boys are not treated, society must later deal with the resulting problems, including crime, suicide, drug use and more sexual abuse. The earlier studies found that one-third of juveni/e delinquents, 40 percent of sexual offenders and 76 percent of serial rapists report they were sexually abused as youngsters. While some incestuous men have sex only with their own children, according to one study at least 44%, abuse children outside the home during the time they are having sexual contact with their own children and other men have sex with children they aren't related to. Characteristics that offenders have in common are dependent, inadequate individuals with early family histories characteri7ed by conflict, disruption, abandonment, abuse and exploitation. Not all offenders are men. While some offenders were sexually abused as children, they still need to be held accountable for their abuse of children and receive sex offender treatment.
Sexuality is regarded not simply as a part of the self limited to genitals, discrete behaviors, or biological aspects of reproduction, but is more properly understood as one component of the total personality that affects one's concept of personal identity and self-esteem.
It is rare for a child to speak directly about sexual abuse. Children often fail to report because of the fear that disclosure will bring consequences even worse than being victimized again. The victim may fear consequences from the family, feel guilty for consequences to the perpetrator, •and may fear subsequent retaliatory actions from the perpetrator.
Evidence of physical trauma to the genitals or mouth, genital or rectal bleeding, sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, unusual and offensive odors, and complaints of pain or discomfort of the genital area can all be indicators. An aware medical practitioner may notice these symptoms during a physical examination. However, in most cases of sexual abuse, there are no physical indicators of the crime. It is rare to actually have positive medical findings upon medical examination, although such findings can provide powerful corroboration of a child's account of sexual abuse. Most often, children who are victims of sexual abuse exhibit emotional or behavioral characteristics that may indicate distress. These neuropsychiatric symptoms indicate a distressed child. The presence of any one of these indicators does not necessarily mean that the child is or has been sexually abused.
In addition to "sexual guilt,' there are several other types of guilt associated with the abuse, which include feeling different from peers, harboring vengeful and angry feelings toward both parents, feeling responsible for the abuse, feeling guilty about reporting the abuse, and bringing disloyalty and disruption to the family.
Any of these feelings of guilt could outweigh the decision of the victim to report, the result of which is the secret may remain intact and undisclosed. Sexual victimization may profoundly interfere with and alter the development of attitudes toward self, sexuality, and trusting relationships during the critical early years of development. Many women and men who have been subjected to severe physical or sexual abuse during childhood suffer from long-term disturbances of the psyche. They may be invaded by nightmares and flashbacks -- much like survivors of war -- or, conversely. may freeze into benumbed calm in situations of extreme stress. If the child victim does not resolve the trauma, sexuality may become an area of adult conflict. There is the clinical assumption that children who feel compelled to keep sexual abuse a secret suffer greater psychic distress than victims who disclose the secret and receive assistance and support.
Early identification of sexual abuse victims appears to be crucial to the reduction of suffering of abused youth and to the establishment of support systems for assistance in pursuing appropriate psychological development and healthier adult functioning. As long as disclosure continues to be a problem for young victims, then fear, suffering, and psychological distress will, like the secret, remain with the victim.
Children with several of these symptoms, however, are often referred for mental health evaluations. Most disclosures from children are to trusted friends or adults in their life - the teacher, coach, grandparent or therapist. The reactian of the adult to whom a child discloses sexual abuse can significantly impact the child's subsequent adjustment. It is important for the adult to be respectful, caring, and believing. A response involving panic, shock, or disbelief, or an overly emotional response can negatively impact the child.
Children often feel badly and blame themselves for the sexual abuse. Therefore, a response in which the adult communicates that the abuse was not the child's fault and that disclosing the information was the right thing to do is recommended. Preparing the child for the potential aftermath of the disclosure is also important. For example, if the adult to whom the child disclosed is a mandated reporter, the local child protection agency or law enforcement will have to be notified. If the adult to whom the child disclosed is a non-offending parent, the parent must take steps to protect the child from further abuse, including reporting the abuse to the proper authorities.
The legal process can be especially intimidating, confusing, and frightening for children. Many aspects of the process such as providing testimony and multiple interviews can be overwhelming for children. It is estimated that the average number of interviews a child victim whose case is going through the court system undergoes is eleven, It is often said that during this time, a child can potentially be re-traumatized. Approximately 95% report being frightened to testify and many children report that the day they testified was the worst day of their lives. Other reported fears include retaliation by the perpetrator, being sent to jail, being punished for making a mistake, having to prove their innocence, crying on the witness stand, describing the details of the offense(s) in front of strangers, and not understanding the questions which are being asked.
There are several modalities of psychological treatment that have demonstrated positive benefits for child victims of sexual abuse. These include individual psychotherapy, group-based psychotherapy, and treatments that involve the entire family. When treatment for this population is trauma-focused, structured, and targets the specific symptoms of sexual abuse, it can be effective at reducing short-term and longterm effects. Individual treatment usually involves the child and a therapist meeting together for an hour a week. The therapist may be a master's level clinician. social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist Group-based psychotherapy can be particularly powerful for sexual abuse victims: they are exposed to other victims and subsequently do not feel alone.
In the end, however, the most effective way to prevent subsequent abusing is to decrease or eliminate opportunity: offenders should not have uncontrolled access to vulnerable children or previous victims.
Next: Still on Dealing with Sexual Abuse, inshaAllah
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited