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Myths & Facts about Sexual Abuse


Myths about Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse has many usually apprehended attitudes. One is that those committing sexual abuse are always men. In fact, reports of female perpetrators are on the rise, involving both male and female victims. At least 5% of those committing sexual abuse are women. Another myth is that the abuser is usually a stranger. More than 70% of those committing sexual abuse are immediate family members or someone very close to the family. Remember – bad guys don’t always look bad; they’re often the people we love. A third myth is that the abuser is always hated. Often the victim loves and protects the perpetrator. Some children feel "special" about the sexual abuse. It may be the only attention or physical contact they’re getting. Because of this, some survivors even into adulthood will deal with the sexual abuse by minimizing it. Thus, they make the abuser and the events "OK", to make it feel like they’re okay. An additional myth is that only females are sexually abused. In fact, 30% of all male children sexual abuse in some manner, compared to 40% of females.

Occurrence of Sexual Abuse

If you are one of the survivors, you are acutely aware that these numbers represent much more than statistics. They represent the pain and anguish and shattered dreams of so many individuals. You are also aware, if you are a survivor of sexual abuse, that it’s often not the mysterious stranger in a trench coat who commits this type of crime. Typically it’s a friend, a parent, someone you love and trust – and it often happens at home. The effects of this kind of brutal betrayal are shattering and may last a lifetime. Specialists in the addiction treatment field (alcohol, drugs and eating disorders) estimate that up to 90 percent of their patients have a known history of some form of sexual abuse. Recent studies (Calam, 19892; Blume, 19893) point out that substance abuse, including "food abuse," is a frequent aftermath of early sexual abuse. Current studies (Koopmans, 19904) demonstrate that the vast majority of children and adolescents who attempt suicide have a history of sexual abuse as well. However, many individuals are resistant to seeking addiction treatment or treatment for sexual abuse. This is especially true for males and adolescents. Men are often extremely reluctant to admit to any history of sexual abuse and often fail to identify it as such. Many survivors are in denial of the effects of early sexual abuse and may fail to see any connection with later tendencies toward ongoing abusive relationships, feelings of self-loathing, inability to trust, or problems with intimacy. Some patients denigrate themselves further, claiming that their sexual abuse could not have been "as bad" as that of other victims. The entire sexual abuse is dreadful, in anyways.

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