A Global Day to End Child Sexual Abuse is recognized on April 8th. What a wonderful goal! We may not see such a lofty goal achieved in our lifetimes, but if we don’t work toward that goal, will it ever be achieved? In the United States alone, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys will become victims of sexual abuse. To make matters worse, sexual abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes, so aside from estimates, no one knows for certain how many children fall victim to sexual predators.
Sexual predators look like everyone else. They have jobs, coach little league, teach, operate day care centers, act as youth pastors and serve as leaders in youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America. No one looks like a sexual predator. Hence, children fall victim to people who look and act trustworthy and credible. Chances are good that the perpetrator is someone you and your child know well.
Ending sexual abuse is about educating the public about how to recognize potential predators and how to counsel children and parents about how to avoid abuse. People who have been abused have a greater tendency to become abusers themselves. Moreover, a victim of sexual abuse is statistically more likely to be re-victimized by future assaults and abuse. The long-term effects are devastating; depression, alcoholism, drug dependency, anxiety, insomnia and other self-destructive behavior. Future relationships may become difficult. Victims find it difficult to trust adults. In sum, the coercion and manipulation that invariably accompanies sexual abuse can have devastating lifetime consequences.
What can you do? Educate yourself on how to recognize and respond to inappropriate behaviors of adults around children. There are signs. For a good primer on how you can help, see this article on how to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse. At Monsees & Mayer, we are committed to preventing sexual abuse in all forms. We devote a significant portion of our practice to victims of sexual abuse and securing on their behalf the compensation needed to get the care and treatment dearly needed to navigate the troubled waters to coping and recovering.
To learn more about the civil rights of sexual abuse victims, take a look at our free booklet.