Sexual Abuse FAQ

Q: Aren’t most offenders strangers?

    A: No. 29% of perpetrators are relatives of the victim, while 60% are
    acquaintances and friends. Only 11 % of perpetrators are strangers.

Q: If sexual abuse only happens once, does it really cause any harm or damage?

    A: Sexual abuse is about power and damage to the core identity of a person. Any incidence of sexual
    abuse leaves an imprint.

Q: If the abuse isn’t violent and causes physical injuries, is it really sexual abuse?

    Abuse is usually coercive. In most cases, the child is engaged by means of
    persuasion, bribes, and threats, rather than by physical force. A
    perpetrator likes to convince the victim and others, that the child was a
    willing participant. This causes many victims to experience confusion,
    shame, guilt, lowered self – esteem, betrayal of trust, fear of intimate
    relationships, and a distorted view of sexuality. Most victims do not have
    physical injuries.

Q:Shouldn’t victims just forget about the abuse and move on?

    A: Many victims do try to
    forget the abuse. However, even if their minds are successful in forgetting,
    their bodies still remember. Many of the maladaptive behaviors come from the
    body’s memories. It is important for the mind to remember so that behaviors
    can be adjusted.

Q: Is it true that if you have been abused, you will become an abuser?

    A:No. Less than 10 % became abusive. Actually, the survivor finds
    herself in relationships that leave themselves and their children vulnerable
    to abuse by others.

Q: Don’t some children make up stories for attention or revenge?

    A: Children rarely lie about
    sexual abuse. Unless a child has been exposed to some form of sex, they
    don’t understand what sex is to be able to report it. Older children are
    often too embarrassed or frightened to talk about the abuse, let alone make
    up false reports.

Q:Isn’t it possible that children can provoke sexual abuse by their seductive or attention-seeking behaviors?

    A: Responsibility for the act lies solely with the offender.
    Children seek affection from adults, not
    sex. Sexual abuse exploits a child, developmentally incapable of
    understanding or resisting, often in a relationship of emotional dependence
    on the adult.

Q:Does the “non-offending” parent always know about the abuse?

    A: Some “non-offending”
    parents may know about the abuse. However, the majority of them do not. The
    perpetrator relies on keeping the behavior a secret. What is important is
    the reaction once the abuse is exposed.

Q: Do all victims react to the abuse by developing addictions or promiscuous behavior?

    A: No. It is just as likely that a victim may become a “people pleaser” or is unable to
    draw appropriate boundaries within a relationship. Some victims may withdraw
    and isolate. These victims still have lowered self esteem, fears and other
    maladaptive behaviors that set them up for abuse within relationships.
    Remember, the abuse damaged their sense of worth and value. It is just as
    difficult for a “people pleaser” to overcome the impact of the abuse as it
    is for a victim who acts out.

Q: If a teen-ager has sex with an adult, isn’t that consensual and not abuse?

    A: No. The adult always has
    a responsibility to protect the child, whether the child is 5 or 15. An
    adult has the responsibility to teach the teen what is appropriate and
    inappropriate, not use the teen’s behavior as an excuse to have sex with him
    or her. It is interesting that in all other crimes, the perpetrator is not
    let off the hook because the victim “consented”. The idea of blaming the
    teen victim sends the message that they have more authority and control over
    adult behavior than adults themselves have. Which in turn gives adults
    permission to continue to rape our adolescents.

Note this: When a victim is under 13 years of age, it is considered
“abuse” and the perpetrator held responsible for his or her behavior. When
the victim is over 20 years of age it is considered “sexual harassment”
and/or “rape”. But when a victim is between 13-19 years of age it is
considered “consensual” and the victim labeled unruly and bad.