Myths about sexual abuse

Posted by on Oct 26, 2012 in Sexual Abuse |

Myths about sexual abuse

Myths about sexual abuse

  • Myth about child sexual abuse: The total stranger represents the greatest potential danger to the child.

REALITY: In reality, these offenders account for less than 25% of the cases. Children are sexually abused or assaulted four out of five times by a person known to them. This person might be their parent, step parent, parent’s boyfriend, sibling, other relative, and neighbor, friend of the family, classmate, babysitter, landlord, doctor, teacher or preacher.

  • Myth about child sexual abuse: Physical trauma is the main concern because children are usually severely hurt.

REALITY: Actually, violent attacks and forced penetration occur in only 5% of the cases. Force is rarely used to sexually maltreat a young child or adolescent. Unfortunately, the psychological damage may have much worse trauma on the child.

  • Myth about child sexual abuse: Acts like fondling, French kissing, or touching, for example, are not really sexually abusive, and don’t really harm the young person in fact, such acts may be helpful and educational.

REALITY: Any form of direct or indirect sexual contact with a young person by an adult, an older child, or a sibling who is more mature, is abusive. Every individual has a unique reaction to sexual abuse regardless of the type, extent or duration of the abuse.

The myths about sexual abuse and children go hand in hand with the myths about sexual abuse to everyone. All the myths are one and the same and are used to perpetuate a sex offender’s innocence to themselves or others.

  • The sexual abuse myth: You can’t be sexually abused if you’re married.

REALITY: You can be abused if you’re married. Spouses are not immune from abusing, or from being abused. It is true that many states have laws which deny that a woman can be raped by her husband. Violation is violation, even if it is allowed by law. If your spouse is pressuring, coercing, threatening, or somehow forcing you to have sex (violently or not), you are being raped. It doesn’t matter if they’ve worked hard all day, it doesn’t matter if they think it’s your duty as a wife (or husband), it doesn’t matter if they’re drunk or haven’t had sex for weeks — nobody has the right to use your body if you don’t want them to.

  • The sexual abuse myth: Sexual abuse never involves pleasure for the victim.

REALITY: Many adult survivors report a deep sense of shame, because as children they were sexually abused, and they felt some pleasure while it was happening. Perhaps the abuse was the only affection they got, perhaps it was soothing, and perhaps the perpetrator got off on making the victim feel pleasure. Just because the victim felt pleasure, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t horribly violated. Human bodies are designed to feel pleasure and respond in particular ways to particular kinds of touch. If a victim’s body responds, it doesn’t negate the abuse. The violation is still there: the perpetrator is still using the victim for their own ends, and has still usurped the victim’s free will and right to let their own sexuality develop as it will.

  • The sexual abuse myth: Sexual abuse is always violent.

REALITY: Sexual abuse is a violent crime, this is true. But the manner in which it is inflicted doesn’t have to involve violence at all. A perpetrator doesn’t have to use a weapon or beat their victim into submission in order to achieve their end. Incest, for example, can involve the subtle seduction of a child, through what amounts to brainwashing. A child may exist in a family where the only touch and love they get is from sexual abuse. They may be rewarded with treats or extra love and attention when they are sexual with adults, or bribed to keep silent in the same manner. Or sexual abuse can be entirely verbal, with the perpetrator’s main weapon being words (such as inappropriate sexual comments, or an overly invasive interest in the victim’s body and sexuality). In many instances, the perpetrator doesn’t even have to touch the victim at all. For instance, leaving pornography around the house (spread out, open, on the coffee table) where children have easy, involuntary access to it is out of line.

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