1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse
28% of youth ages 14 to 17 report having been sexually victimized at some time in their lives
Self-report studies show that 20 percent of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault incident
Rape & Crisis Victim Hotline
For women or men who are victims/survivors of sexual assault, regardless of when event happened; family members may call (Women’s Center).
Youth Crisis Hotline
A 24-hour hotline for any crisis – from pregnancy to drugs to depression.
Text CONNECT to 74174
Who Commits Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abusers can be found in every race and sociodemographic group. Both males and females can commit sexual abuse, and people of all ages can be perpetrators. However, sexual abusers are people who are in a position of trust or authority, such as a family member, caregiver, teacher, coach, or clergy member. In addition, older children can abuse younger children.
Most significant, the vast majority of victims know their abusers. In 2003, the National Institute of Justice reported that 3 out of 4 adolescent sexual assault victims knew the perpetrator.
Who Are the Victims of Sexual Abuse?
When we talk about sexual abuse, we often think about the children being targeted. This is certainly a concern; according to one study, approximately 70 percent of victims are age 17 or younger. However, almost anyone can be a victim of sexual abuse. Other groups of victims are:
People with disabilities or mental illness
Members of the military
Therefore, children and teens are frequent victims. Likewise, children who do not live with both parents or children living in severely dysfunctional homes are at a significantly greater risk of sexual abuse. However, adults can also become victims of sexual abuse.
There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds
What are the Different Types of Sexual Abuse?
Some of the most common forms of sexual abuse are:
Mental health issues, including depression and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Self-harm and/or suicide
Pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections
Sexual abuse survivors may struggle with guilt or shame. They may feel like they did something to “deserve” the abuse, or that they should have done something to stop it. Every person who has been sexually abused should understand. In addition, the victim of sexual abuse is NEVER to blame for what has happened. Take our short quiz, Are Your Depressed?
What are the Long-term Effects for Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused?
Child victims are more likely to have behavioral issues such as aggression and have difficulty in school. As they get older, the abuse victims are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. And when they are adults, they are at a greater risk of again being sexually abused.
Most disturbing, children who have been sexually abused are at risk of perpetuating the cycle. According to some studies, about one-third of people who are abused in childhood will go on to become abusers themselves.
How Do I Recover from Sexual Abuse?
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, there are several steps you can take to being the process of healing:
Survivors of sexual abuse respond in a variety of ways. You may be feeling shock, shame, anger, guilt, or isolation. You may be feeling completely devastated—or completely numb. Similarly, maybe you are feeling a mixture of all these emotions. And you may be wondering if you will ever recover. Remember that there is no “correct way” for the victim of sexual violence to feel. The important thing is that you find support. Take our short quiz, How Well Do You Bounce Back?
Share your feelings.
Talk with trusted friends and family members. One of the most effective things you can do is find a skilled therapist who is experienced in helping people who have been sexually assaulted. In addition, you can also look for support groups that meet in person or online. In addition, some therapists suggest journaling or writing a letter to your abuser (although it usually is not a good idea to mail the letter).
Do not minimize the trauma of what you have been through. Therapists suggest you do healthy activities that can help you feel better, like taking warm baths, gentle exercise, or spending time with friends. Be sure to get plenty of rest and have a good diet. Above all, look for the things that work for you, and remember that healing is a process, not an act. Do our short activity, Looking for Good.
What Services are Available in Tarrant County for Victims of Sexual Abuse?
Alliance for Children provides counseling services for victims of child abuse and has four locations in Tarrant County. Fort Worth number: 817-335-7172.
Surviving Sexual Abuse is Part of Maintaining Mental Health
The process of healing from sexual abuse can be slow. But with time, work, and support, you can move past it and regain your life. In conclusion, this also is part of protecting your mental health. If you or someone you know has been the victim, we encourage you to take action today. In addition, anyone can move from being a victim of sexual abuse to a survivor.
No official endorsement by the Mental Health Connection or its membership for the information on this web site is intended or should be inferred. The materials contained on this site are made available for educational purposes only and are not meant to serve as medical advice or to replace consultation with your physician or mental health professional. Information about diagnosis and treatment that appears on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health problem. You are advised to consult a qualified mental health care provider about your personal questions or concerns. The views and opinions of authors expressed on this site do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Mental Health Connection or its membership. Links to external websites are provided for convenience of reference only and are not intended as an endorsement of the organization or a warranty of any type of information on the site.