Sexual Abuse Facts

Sexual abuse is the misuse of power by someone who manipulates, tricks, forces or coerces a child or otherwise vulnerable person into sexual contact. It includes incest, sexual molestation, sexual assault and the exploitation of the child for pornography or prostitution. In well over 90 percent of reported cases of sexual abouse, the offenders are men.

Current studies show that one out of every four girls and one out of every eight boys in North America will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

Children who have been sexually abused may be too afraid or ashamed to tell anyone. It is up to you, the parent, to be aware of some of the physical and behavioral sighs which could indicate that your child has been sexually abused.

These signs include:

  • Changes in behaviour and a loss of appetite
  • Frequent nightmares or fear of the dark
  • Torn or stained underclothing
  • Fear of being alone or left with someone
  • Aggressive behaviour and/or difficulty in school
  • Vaginal or rectal bleeding, vaginal discharge, itching, pain or swollen genitals

Teaching children to be cautious with strangers is not the sole preventative measure for sexual abuse. Studies show that 85% of child victims are abused by someone they know or recognize. Sadly, in 40% of these cases, the abuser is a member of the child's family.

Sexual Abuse By A Family Member or Acquaintance

Sexual abuse within a family may begin as a singal incident, but then continues for several years. Often this pattern continues from one generation to another, with the once-victim becoming the abuser later on in his or her life. An abuser within the family usually tries to control the victim with threats of punishment in the victim tells anyone, or by convincing the child that this activity is to be "their little secret".

Parents must teach their children that secrets like these should be told.

Victims of the family sexual abuse are usually plagued by tremendous guilt and shame which prevents them from confiding in another family member or calling the police for help.

Sexual Abuse By A Stranger

Sexual abusers may be male or female, but the majority of known abusers are men. Although many people tend to associate a shild molester with the term "dirty old man", studies indicate that 50% of all abusers are under the age of 31 and only 10% or all known abusers are over the age of 50.

Generally, the strangers will sexually abuse more than one chiuld, but not usually the same child twice. Sexual abuse by a stranger can happen to any child in their own neighbourhood, public places such as parks and playgrounds or in deserted areas such as parking lots, campgrounds and wooded areas.

Preventive Measures

As a parent, you should always know where your child is, what they are doing and with whom. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to ensure that your child will NEVER be a victim of abuse.

However, there are certain preventive measures that can and should be taken to reduce the odds of your child experiencing this trauma:

  1. Create an atmosphere in which your child feels free to talk about any problems they may have
  2. Explain and sicuss sexual abuse with your child often and encourange questions
  3. Explain that your child's body is theirs alone and no one has the right to touch them in certain ways. (explain the difference between affection and abusive touching)
  4. Assure your child that you are always on their side encouraging them to tell you about a stranger or family member that tries to touch them inappropriately
  5. Encourage your child to talk about time spent alone with caregivers, family and friends (this also encourages good lines of communication)
  6. Instruct your children in the "buddy system" where they are never alone in potentially dangerous places.

Getting Help For Your Child

Any child who has been sexually abused needs parental supprt and professional help, even if no harmful effects are evident. Children rarely lie about abuse. As a parent, you should believe your child when they confide in you about an assault. If the child has been injured contact a physician immediately.

Reporting Abuse To Police

Actual incidents of abuse should be reported to the Police immediately. Provide us with as much deatil as you can gather from your child and alert us to any witnesses. Although reporting this may be difficult for you, it could prevent what happened to your child from happening to someone else's. Reporting the abuser will contribute to the understanding that the abuser has committed a criminal offence, rather than the child feeling responsible for the assault. If this crime goes unreported you will be condemning your child to a lifetime of internalized guilt and shame.

A CHILD IS NEVER AT FAULT IN SEXUAL ABUSE.

A CHILD CANNOT CONSENT TO ANY SEXUAL ACT.

AN ABUSER HAS COMMITTED A CRIMINAL OFFENCE.

IT IS A PARENT'S RESPONSIBILTY TO REPORT THIS TO PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN AND THE CHILDREN OF OTHERS FROM THE PREDATOR.

For more information or to report an assault, contact Midland Police Service or your local Police Service immediately.