Mary Bridge Children's Hospital

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Facts About Sexual Abuse

Facts About Sexual Abuse

  • One out of every three girls and one out of every eight boys will be sexually abused by age 18.
  • Eighty to ninety percent of offenders are family members or someone close to the family.
  • When sexual abuse occurs within a family, it is likely to continue for a period of time, even years, until it is discovered and stopped.
  • Both males and females sexually offend, however males represent a higher percentage of known sex offenders.
  • The media reports information on the highest risk offenders; however the majority of sex offenders are unknown to the general public either because information isn’t publicized or because they haven’t been caught yet.
  • While most other criminals decrease their criminal activity as they age, sex offenders typically do not. Most sex offenders continue to offend until they are physically incapable. Successful completion of sex offender treatment can interrupt this behavior; however extreme caution around children will continue to be necessary.
  • Child sexual abuse usually begins with a sex offender gaining both the parent’s and the child’s trust and friendship. Once a relationship has been established, the offender will begin to test the child’s knowledge and ability to protect themselves. Sexual jokes, back rubs, “accidental” sexual touching, and hugging, often done in the presence of the parent, are utilized to “test the waters”. If the offender isn’t given the message that these behaviors are inappropriate he/she will increase the amount and type of sexual exposure. To adjust the child to sexual activity, offenders commonly utilize casual or “accidental” exposure to pornography. This entire process is known as grooming.
  • Children who are well informed and empowered to act, and who have someone who will listen to them can, in many cases, prevent or stop sexual abuse. Offenders do not usually choose victims who are likely to resist or tell.
  • Sexual abuse can cause long-lasting problems well into adulthood. It is important to get your child into counseling after abuse has been disclosed. It is also often necessary and healthy for adult survivors of child sexual abuse to re-enter counseling at various periods of their life to assist in working through issues that resurface.