- 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
- Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
- During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
- Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
- Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.
According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well (page 5).
Alarming statistics for an act that is silenced over and over again by the victim themselves, family, friends, churches and even authorities figures. I wonder will we ever have a time when children can feel safe, and not be in danger of being sexually molested. It is true that most of us that have been sexually molested were victimized by someone we knew. For years I didn’t count myself among those that were molested because I was not penetrated by my perpetrator. However, I always recognized what he did was wrong, and carried emotional scars that negatively impacted by body image for a long time.
Molest means to touch someone sexually when it is not wanted. I was a teenager in the stages of puberty. My breasts seemed to have grown overnight, and they were not the normal size you would expect from someone my age. I was thirteen years old that summer. I was uncomfortable with the changes in my body, and this incident made me feel even more uncomfortable. My breasts were grabbed and held by someone I trusted. Someone who knew better and should have been ashamed of themselves. I was very shocked, but didn’t know what to do other than call my dad and say come get me. My dad knew me well and he kept asking me was everything okay. I kept lying and saying yes, everything is fine. Just please come get me. My dad came and I never told him what happened. My dad went to his grave not knowing what happened that summer.
Fast forward to 1999, when my dad passed and I told my mom and my step-mother what happened that summer. They both were shocked! My mom said why didn’t you tell me. Why didn’t you tell your dad? I told her I knew it would destroy family relationships, and I felt like what happened wasn’t that bad. I mean I wasn’t penetrated. Isn’t it crazy how victims rationalize what happened?
I realize what happened to me defined me for more years than I care to remember. I didn’t like my breasts. I hid them as much as possible. If I didn’t have these breasts, this wouldn’t have happened to me. Hindsight allows me to recognize that I did nothing wrong, and the perpetrator was a sick individual. I was well into my thirties before I became comfortable with the blessing God gave me: big, beautiful breasts! Finally, I became comfortable in my own skin.
These posts may cause questions from my family, but I don’t care! I am a silence breaker! Audre Lorde summed up silence the best for situations such as this: “Your silence will not protect you.”
Be a silence breaker! Be inspired to break the silence from here.
Image by bryanbope on Flickr