by Stephanie L. Jones
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, as well as National Child Abuse Awareness Month
Child Sexual Abuse. It’s something that no one wants to talk about. It’s shameful, embarrassing, and humiliating. But it’s something that affects every family at some point in time. Therefore, we must talk about it.
One in 3 females and 1 in 5 males are sexually abused as children and 90% of the time it’s at the hands of a family member, close family friend, or trusted leader. It’s not a stranger on the street, but it’s someone the victim loves and trust. Some of the results of sexual abuse include low self-esteem, health problem, sexual promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, abortion, excessive spending habits, and problems forming and maintaining relationships.
- 66% of teen pregnancies and abortions are preceded by sexual abuse.
- 96% of prostitutes were sexual abuse victims.
- 75% of rapists were sexual abuse victims.
- 60% of children who experience abuse and neglect are more likely to be arrested at some point in their lives.
I know what it feels like to endure years of sexual abuse and suffer in silence. I was sexually abused for over seven years, beginning at age five. However, it wasn’t until I was almost 30 years old that I told someone about it and addressed how it affected my teenage and young adult life. Through prayer and spending time with God, I realized that what happened to me as a child didn’t just go away. God showed me how it led to one bad decision after the next. But, most importantly, I learned the steps to heal from it!
- What are some steps abuse victims can take to begin the healing process?
First, the person should pray and ask God to show them how they’re still being affected by it. There are side effects that seem to exist amongst all victims, but they do vary by person. Secondly, talk to someone! Keeping silent doesn’t make it go away or stop the pain. Sexual abuse is a heavy burden to bear alone. Last, forgive the offender. Forgiveness is a decision and something that a person purposes in their heart to do. It doesn’t make the abuse right nor does it mean they must have a relationship with the offender. It means letting go of the anger and resentment in one’s own heart. There may be other necessary steps. It depends on where the victim/survivor is at in life. But this is a great place to start!
- Only 15% of abuse cases are ever revealed. Why don’t victims tell?
There’s no one reason, but usually as a child, the victim is not aware of the seriousness of the situation. Sometimes they feel like participants and are afraid of getting in trouble. Oftentimes it’s an issue of fear. Ninety-percent of the time the offender is a family member or close family friend. No one wants someone they love or another family member to serve 10-25 years in prison for child molestation.
- What can other people do to help remedy this problem?
Be more selective about where and with whom they allow their children to spend their time, including with family members, friends, and leaders. Pay attention to children’s actions and conversations. Stop making sexual abuse the family secret! Keeping quiet only allows for it to go on generation after generation. Also, get children help when child-on-child sexual abuse takes place. This will prevent them from becoming teenage and adult child molesters.
Stephanie L. Jones, author of The Enemy Between My Legs, is a highly sought after speaker for schools, organizations, and churches. A sexual abuse survivor, she knows and understands the effects that it has on a victim’s life. She is committed to helping others, especially teenage girls and young women, find healing from the pain of their past. Purchase the book or connect with Stephanie confidentially at www.stephanieljones.com