Sexual Abuse includes child sexual abuse (any form of sexual contact with a child younger than the age of consent),Sexual assault (including date rape, rape or being a victim of another’s sexual exhibitionism or voyeurism). Sexual abuse also occurs when a person is a victim of sexual harassment and sexual coercion when the victim is in a role or position of less power or trust and is forced to participate in unwanted sexual behaviour. Therapy allows a safe place for victims to work through their pain and find hope.
Facts about Sexual Abuse
- FACT 1: 85% of people who commit sexual assaults are known to their victims (Rape Crisis Network National Statistics 2015).
- IMPACT OF FACT 1: 65% of those who suffer sexual violence do not report it to the Gardaí or any other formal authority. (Rape Crisis Network National Statistics 2015). This is often due to a relationship with their abuser, for example, only 15% of those abused by a relative reported the incident. (Rape Crisis Network National Statistics 2014).
- FACT 2: Rapists are men of all ages and from all walks of life. A US study of 646 convicted rapists found that they were no more psychologically disturbed than those who had committed robberies or assaults (Amir, M. (1971) Patterns of Forcible Rape. Chicago: University of Chicago Press).
- IMPACT OF FACT 2: Survivors are often not believed because the rapist does not fit the stereotype, as they seem to be such a 'normal' or 'decent' person.
- FACT 3: All women face the possibility of rape, not only attractive ones. Interviews with rapists confirm that the woman's looks were not important to them.
- IMPACT OF FACT 3: The mistaken belief that rape is about sexual attraction leads to excusing the rapist. Some people say that the woman's looks, short skirt or make-up provoked the attack.
- FACT 4: Resisting does not protect from being raped. All rapists use tactics of intimidation and fear. A common reaction is to freeze. Not fighting back or submitting can be a survival response. The rapist is in control of how he acts; the victim is always reacting to the rapist. (Schmidt et. al. 2007)
- IMPACT OF FACT 4: Survivors wrongly blame themselves. If they have no bruises, cuts or injuries to show, they question whether they were really raped. Society and the justice system question the survivor's actions.
- FACT 5: Reporting rape or sexual assault involves complex, invasive and sometimes traumatic procedures. Women who have been subjected to rape or sexual assault are often treated with suspicion and disbelief. This makes it unlikely that a woman would make and stick with a false accusation of rape.
- IMPACT OF FACT 5: Family, friends and acquaintances, without considering the above, do not believe the survivors, especially if they know the rapist. They suspect the survivor wants revenge or regrets what he/she did. As a result, survivors do not report or proceed with prosecution. This reinforces others in the belief that the survivors lied in the first place.
4 out of 5 rape victims subsequently suffer from chronic physical or psychological conditions.
Symptoms of Sexual Abuse
- Fear responses to reminders of the assault;
- Pervading sense of anxiety, wondering whether it is possible to ever feel safe again;
- Re-experiencing assault over and over again through flashbacks;
- Problems concentrating and staying focused on the task at hand;
- Guilty feelings;
- Developing a negative self-image, feeling “dirty” inside or out;
- Disruptions in close relationships;
- Loss of interest in sex.