We are pleased to add in ‘Darkness to Light’s “Child Sexual Abuse Statistics”, to our Library. Following is also a link to their website, celebrating 20 Years (2 decades) of preventing child sexual abuse. Please enjoy your viewing + post any of your comments/suggestions here …
The statistics and facts below can help you understand what child sexual abuse is, the risk factors and consequences for survivors, and how to identify and report suspected abuse. For all statistics and references, download the full statistics PDF.
The Magnitude of the Problem
Child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than people realize. Find out how big the problem really is.
Those who molest children look and act just like everyone else. Abusers can be neighbors, friends, and family members.
Circumstances of Abuse
Child sexual abuse takes place under
specific, often surprising circumstances.
While no child is immune, there are child and family characteristics that can heighten the risk of sexual abuse.
Risk Factor Statistics
Consequences of Abuse
Emotional and mental health problems are often the first consequence and sign of child sexual abuse.
Facts on Reporting
Only about one-third of child sexual abuse incidents are identified and even fewer are reported.
Signs of Abuse
Do you know what to do if you suspect or discover child sexual abuse? Learn the facts about signs of abuse that will help you identify when to report.
What to Do Facts
Download a pdf with all statistics.
By Mihaela Bernard, MA, LCPC
Last updated: 9 Apr 2018~ 3 MIN READ
Recognizing common symptoms of childhood sexual abuse can help parents, caregivers, teachers, social workers, counselors and childcare staff alert the appropriate authorities and take proper steps to protect the welfare and safety of our children. It is far too often that I hear stories of adults, who fail to recognize that something is wrong with their child and attribute concerning changes in their kids’ behavior to temperament, age or other misguided explanations.
Because of this, I want to take a quick look at 11 common psychiatric symptoms experienced by victims of childhood sexual abuse but please keep in mind that this is not a diagnostic guide or a substitute for professional consultation. I have tried to clump together common symptoms that bring people (both children and adults) to the therapy office due to past history of childhood sexual abuse but this is by no means a comprehensive list and any of those symptoms taken separately may have other etiologies.
Depending on the age, specific nature of the sexual trauma and the temperament and coping skills of each person, the clinical presentation may look differently. If you have experienced any form of childhood trauma, abuse or neglect, you may identity with some of the behaviors and patterns discussed below. In that case, I would highly suggest seeking out some help.
1. Dissociation. Dissociation is probably the most common defense mechanism the mind employs to protect itself from the trauma of sexual assault. It is the escape of the mind from the body in times of extreme stress, sense of powerlessness, pain and suffering.
2. Self-Injurious Behavior (cutting, self-mutilation). Self-mutilation is another way survivors of trauma employ in an effort to cope with the experience of severe emotional and psychological pain. Some research shows that during cutting or self-mutilation, the brain releases natural opioids that provide a temporary experience or sense of calm and peace that many, who cut, find soothing.
3. Fear and anxiety. An overactive stress response system* is among the most common psychiatric symptoms in survivors of sexual trauma. This is manifested in extreme fear, social anxiety, panic attacks, phobias and hyper vigilance. It is as if the body is in a state of constant alert and cannot relax.
4. Nightmares. Just like the intrusive terrorizing memories of war veterans, survivors of sexual abuse often experience nightmares, intrusive thoughts and disrupted sleep.
5. Substance Abuse. Abusing substances is a common coping mechanism for people, who have experienced trauma. Even the “normal” experimentation with drugs of adolescence is not so “normal,” especially if you raised your kid to know the impact of drugs on the central nervous system, the consequences of addiction and the long-term effects of habitual drug use.
6. Hypersexualized behavior. This is a commonreaction to pre-mature sexual exposure or a traumatic sexual experience. If a child is too young to be excessively masturbating or is engaging in pre-mature sexual play or behavior, this is typically a sign that the child has witnessed, been a participant in or has been exposed to adult sexuality. In adolescence and adulthood, this can take the form of promiscuity, illegal sexual activity such as prostitution or participation in pornography, escort services, etc.
7. Psychotic-like symptoms. Paranoia, hallucinations or brief psychotic episodes are not uncommon for survivors of child sexual abuse.
8. Mood fluctuations, anger and irritability. Children are often unable to verbalize their feelings so instead, they act out on them. Sometimes, the same is true for adults. Mood fluctuations, irritability and disrupted neurotransmitter systems in the brain that present as depression, mania, anger and anxiety are common among trauma survivors.
9. Disrupted relationships and difficulties maintaining long-term friendships or romantic partners. Following the aftermath of sexual abuse, people are not experienced as safe, trustworthy and available so maintaining long-term relationships based on honestly is difficult and often tumultuous.
10. Regressive behaviors (mostly in children). Enuresis (bed wetting) and encopresis (involuntary soiling ones’ underwear with feces) in a previously potty-trained child, unexplained and sudden temper tantrums or violent outbursts, as well as clingy, uncontrollable or impulsive behaviors that were previously missing from a child’s way of being with others is another common indicator of something gone terribly wrong.
11. Physical complaints, psychosomatic symptoms or autoimmune responses of the body. Many clinicians from different schools of thought have written on the subject of the way the body stores and remembers trauma in response to the mind rejecting, forgetting or dissociating from the experience. Psychoanalysis terms these reactions “unconscious” as they express an experience out of language, out of words and often out of what is perceiveable by an individual.
When the unthinkable happens such as in several of the clinical cases described by Dr. Bruce Perry in his book “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us about Loss, Love and Healing,” the mind copes by mobilizing the body to express something that is otherwise inexpressible with words. We see in Dr. Perry’s neuroscientific approach to the understanding and treatment of traumatized children how the physical brain responds to the experience of trauma and how the mind communicates and eventually heals from this experience in the safety of the therapeutic relationship.
For more information on this subject, visit www.childtrauma.org
*I am borrowing the term “overactive stress response system” from Dr. Bruce Perry’s book “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us about Loss, Love and Healing.” Many of the symptoms I have listed in this post are also discussed in his book, including dissociation, self-mutilation and hyper sexualized behavior.
Since 26th Oct 20, there has been a jump in visitors to our RCbbc Blog. Most of these were concerning ‘known CSA predators’, ‘elite’/‘private schools’ and ‘previous charges’/‘current trials’. The inclusion of another ‘Brand™’ of GPS Schools (Catholic) had also been a major trigger to these jumps. While following a similar pattern of how Journalistic-identified programs had unveiled CSA instances, upwards from southern states; RCbbc has ‘back-traced’ these same trails in reverse (BBC-GPS-NSW).
Although identification of these trails were discussed during our early days (2013-15), it is still breathtaking when truths are realised. Unfortunately, those who experienced any of Butch’s (AK Buchanan, BBC, St Paul’s & IGS) classes may remember some of AAGPS Schools being mentioned, in his previous exploits (SHORE, Scots College et al). Much more is awaiting to become evident, so stay tuned.
BBC’s inclusion in the Royal Commission’s eventual National Redress Scheme, is administered via the PMSA (Presbyterian Methodist Schools Association). Each of the other stated Private Schools should be administered by their similar authorities. Relevant details of each of these institutions is contained in the following References, which should provide relevant authorities detail upon request.
- AAGPS. (2020). Athletic Association of The Great Public Schools of NSW. http://aagps.nsw.edu.au
- BBC. (2020). Brisbane Boys’ College. https://www.bbc.qld.edu.au. Sit Sine Labe Decus.
- Glancey, Jonathan. (2014). Sydney Opera House: ‘An architectural marvel’. https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20130711-design-classic-down-under
- GPS. (2018). The Great Public Schools Association of Queensland. https://gpsqld.org.au.
- IGS. (2020). Ipswich Grammar School. http://www.ipswichgrammar.com. Labore Et Honore.
- IGS Board. (2020). Board of Trustees. https://www.ipswichgrammar.com/our-school/board-of-trustees.
- PMSA. (2019). Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association. https://pmsa-schools.edu.au
- Scots College, The. (2020). The Presbyterian Church (New South Wales) Property Trust. https://www.tsc.nsw.edu.au
- SHORE. (2020). Sydney Church of England Grammar School. https://www.shore.nsw.edu.au
- SPS. (2020). Saint Pauls School. https://www.stpauls.qld.edu.au. Fide et Literis
- TCSDOB. (2020). The Corporation of the Synod of the Diocese of Brisbane. https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity/e3b528a3a04fc25dbbfe003190f3080c
Covid-19: Are you concerned about wearing a mask?
This is a very well-timed read, in this current COVID-19 age. Particularly those, whose health has been effected (e.g. CSA) may be extra vulnerable to the pandemic that’s already taking higher amounts of impacts. Although there will always be social disputes, COVID + CSA will never have a 😊 ending: 😳!
Create a family Safety Plan
You can help keep your child safe from sexual abuse by creating a safer environment around him/her.
Learn as much as you can:
Learn about the warning signs and what to look for in adults, teenagers and children.
Talk about child sexual abuse with those you are close with.
Set clear family boundaries:
Teach all members of the family to respect privacy in dressing, bathing, sleeping and other personal activities.
Speak up when you see something that doesn’t seem right to you. Interrupt behaviors and talk with the adult, child or teenager in the situation about what makes you uncomfortable.
Get other safe adults involved:
Be sure that no one in your family feels alone.
Become a resource person for an adult, child or teen – there may be no more important gift you can give those you love.
For a full description of a Family Safety Plan, see Stop It Now.
although these types of abuse may not be frequently acknowledged, they may carry the greatest impact on CSA victims. impacts of CSA may be embodied in many parts of our lives. following recent readings of Cultural abuse, different POV were raised with an advocate, who made identifications of Cultural & Spiritual impacts. these had related tomultiple instances in type upbringing of the abused child.
Cultural abuses may involve:
- Belittles your beliefs, practices and traditions
- Prevents you from participating in spiritual or cultural traditions
- Forces you to participate in practices (not your own)
- Misstating or misusing spiritual practices against you
- Practices bad medicine against you
Spiritual abuses may involve:
- Telling you that you’re not “native enough”, or if your partner is non-Native, that you’re “too Indian”
- Uses hurtful stereotypes to put you down (“Indians are drunks, lazy,” etc.)
- Prevents you from participating in ceremonies, pow wows, feasts
- Uses tribal membership against you (“My tribe won’t let you…”)
- Tells you that you’re not allowed to drum, dance, sing, fast or otherwise participate in traditions because of your gender
Each of these points are only examples of what are involved in Cultural + Spiritual abuse. As they’ve been taken from an American Helpline, reference has been made to (American) Indians. Indigenous Australians could be an equivalent.
WHAT IS CULTURAL ABUSE?
• The word ‘trauma’ describes events and experiences which are so stressful that they are overwhelming.
• The word ‘trauma’ also describes the impacts of the experience/s. The impacts depend on a number of factors.
• People can experience trauma at any age. Many people experience trauma across different ages.
• Trauma can happen once, or it can be repeated. Experiences of trauma are common and can have many sources.
• Trauma can affect us at the time it occurs as well as later. If we don’t receive the right support, trauma can affect us right through our life.
• We all know someone who has experienced trauma. It can be a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a client… or it can be us.
• It can be hard to recognise that a person has experienced trauma and that it is still affecting them.
• Trauma is often experienced as emotional and physical harm. It can cause fear, hopelessness and helplessness.
• Trauma interrupts the connections (‘integration’) between different aspects of the way we function.
• Trauma can stop our body systems from working together. This can affect our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
• While people who experience trauma often have similar reactions, each person and their experience is unique.
• Trauma can affect whole communities. It can also occur between and across generations, e.g. the trauma of our First Nations people.
• For our First Nations people, colonisation and policies such as the forced removal of children shattered important bonds between families and kin and damaged people’s connection to land and place.
• Many different groups of people experience high levels of trauma. This includes refugees and asylum seekers, as well as women and children. This is not to deny that many men and boys also experienced trauma.
• Certain life situations and difference can make trauma more common. People with disability of all ages experience and witness trauma more often than people without disability. LGBTQI people also experience high levels of trauma which is often due to discrimination.
Blue Knot Helpline 1300 657 380 | blueknot.org.au | 02 8920 3611 | email@example.com
PARCS have been taking conversations about the elephant in the room out of the centre and in to the local Portsmouth community since we were established by a group of local women in 1981. Our aim is to raise consciousness, challenging victim blaming narratives and rape myths, and to offer support and signposting to survivors of sexual abuse.
Our current outreach and education programmes are co-produced with the communities they hope to engage and work to challenge and disrupt the ever-present societal and cultural narratives of sexual violence. While our consciousness raising work has developed we believe the messages we took out in 1981 to be just as relevant now.
We believe that every community has a part to play in responding to and preventing sexual violence and that we all have the power to shrink the impact of the trauma caused by sexual abuse.
In 2016, following the launch from The Survivors Trust “Elephant in the Room campaign” we purchased a 10ft inflatable elephant and since then the elephant has attended hundreds of events including Portsmouth Pride, The Great South Run, Victorious, The South Coast Festival and many local Portsmouth schools and colleges.
The Elephant in the Room has also featured in many of our awareness campaigns and this year we launched a series of posters of the Elephant at “home” and out in Portsmouth City, in response to the impact of sexual abuse during the pandemic.
Launched in August, 2020 #ShrinkTheElephant is our new campaign created during lockdown by a group of young women volunteering to train as young leaders and activists through Project Catalyst.
The aim of the campaign is to raise consciousness of the impact of sexual abuse in our local communities through photography. Many of the photo’s for the campaign have been taken by young people out in and around Portsmouth as well as in homes during lockdown with the aim of highlighting that HOME is not always a safe place for survivors of sexual abuse no matter how long ago the abuse happened.
The Elephant has gone on tour in the next chapter of the #shrinktheelephant campaign and with support from Strong Island and many local photographers we will be holding a local exhibition to showcase the images of the Elephant in and around Hampshire. We will also be running a photography competition for young people, aged 18 and under, from the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire area. To enter simply find an elephant model of your choice and capture your photos of the Elephant in the Room then tag us on Instagram @shrinktheelephant. If you prefer you can also DM us your photos if you wish them to be posted anonymously. More on this and information about prizes coming soon.
For more information on Project Catalyst or if you are interested in becoming a PARCS activist contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information on the Elephant in the Room campaign contact us: email@example.com
Survivors on our helpline tell us that covering their own face or seeing the faces of others covered has been a triggering experience for them. From a small survey we conducted, we found that a third of survivors who responded confirmed this. With the Government’s announcement that face coverings will be mandatory in shops from Friday the 24th of July, this issue will only worsen for survivors affected by this.
Within the Government’s Guidelines for face coverings on public transport, it states that those who “cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering without severe distress” will be exempt. Although technically this exemption includes survivors of sexual violence who are triggered by covering their face, asking a survivor to explain this to staff and security guards is a terrifying and humiliating prospect. Many survivors already carry a great deal of shame about what happened to them, making disclosing this to strangers an impossibility. There is also the worry as to how staff or other shoppers may react to them. We live in a society where members of the general public’s perception of survivors are still heavily clouded by rape myths and victim blaming. Survivors may not always receive an empathetic and compassionate response.
Although we strongly urge survivors to try to wear face coverings in order to protect themselves and the vulnerable members of our society, the guidelines state that those who “cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering without severe distress” are exempt.
If wearing a face covering will be severely distressing for you, please download one or both of these images to your phone to present to staff when entering shops. These are NOT official Government documents but they may help you feel more comfortable when speaking with staff and security guards.
When viewing this web page on your phone, press the image above with your finger and hold down for a second or two. A box will pop up with a few options, select the option to download or save the image. The image should then appear in your photos ready for you to access.
Here are a number of alternative exemption cards that you can download, print and present:
- Hidden Disabilities
- Transport for London
- ‘I have a reasonable excuse’ card
- HM Courts & Tribunals service
Masks and face coverings can be triggering for a number of reasons. Wearing a face covering can trigger memories of abuse, such as the feeling of having a hand covering your mouth or your face pushed into a pillow. They can also make us feel claustrophobic which can trigger fears of having a panic attack or losing control of our breathing. Survivors have also reported that not being able to see the faces of those around them is intimidating and makes them feel worried. With the conditions of lockdown worsening pre-existing mental health issues and feelings of isolation for many people in the UK, survivors are particularly vulnerable at this time.
Here are some of our tips to consider for those who are worried about wearing a mask:
Practice wearing your face covering at home. If wearing a face covering or mask in public has been particularly triggering for you, try practicing wearing one at home or in environments where you already know you feel safe. Take the time to get used to how it feels on your face. This will make you feel more prepared and relaxed for when you might have to wear the face covering in less familiar or more stressful situations.
Find the right face covering. Some masks and face coverings fit better than others depending on the size and shape of your face. If you can find a face covering that is comfortable and doesn’t irritate you, this will help you stay relaxed in public.
Get creative. If you feel uncomfortable wearing a mask, you could consider wearing a scarf or handkerchief over your mouth instead. Although the feeling is similar, it may be less restrictive and more familiar if it is an item you’ve owned for a long time. You could even make your own mask or face covering with fabric that makes you happy and feels comfortable on your skin. Here are some official tips on making effective face coverings. If you like the idea of having a personalised mask but would find it difficult to make your own, you can find personalising options online, such as on Bags of Love.
Make it smell good. If there is a particular smell that you find relaxing, such as lavender, invest in a pillow spray that you can lightly spray a fabric mask with 20 minutes before you need to use it. That way, by the time you come to wear the face covering, the smell won’t be overpowering but just enough to relax your senses.
Ask for support. If you have trusted family and loved ones who know what you have been through, ask for their support. This might look like going for practice walks in the face covering with you, going with you to the shops to support you if it gets too much, or helping you to find the right covering for you.
If even after following these tips a mask is still causing you significant distress, you could consider a face shield instead. These still offer protection to the wearer and those around them without the same restrictive fabric covering the mouth. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines on their website that they do not recommend the use of face shields as a substitute for face coverings, however, if they are used without a mask “they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.” You can find more information on this on the CDC’s website here. Face shields are also helpful for those who are hearing impaired or wear glasses (face masks are renowned for steaming up glasses.) You can find a variety of face shields onAmazon and other online retailers.
If you lip-read as part of your communication, you may find an app such as Live Transcribe helpful when those around you are wearing a mask. The app will create live subtitles on screen as a person speaks. Simply search for this in your phone’s app store and click download.
If you feel triggered when you are out in public, whether this is due to face coverings or being overwhelmed by busy places, try considering grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can be very useful when we feel really distressed, particularly when the distress makes us feel very unreal or detached, or it feels like we are in a different situation to where we really are. You can find these here.