Whether you identify as a survivor, victim, or someone working through trauma, know that you are not alone, you are not to blame, and there are people who can help you on your healing journey.
If you are a parent, professional, or important person in a youth or friend’s life and they share their trauma story, it can be overwhelming and scary! Whether a youth or peer disclosed to you for the first time today or they shared their story long ago, here are some resources on ways to support your loved one. This list is neither exhaustive nor complete, but a great starting point. If you want further information or support, please call the Family Enhancement Center Advocacy Line at 612-429-8266 to connect with an advocate who can help provide personalized advice and resources to best support your unique needs.
Facts and Stats about Childhood Sexual Abuse:
- In the US, Child Protective Services finds evidence of or substantiates a claim of child sexual abuse every 9 minutes.
- Among reported cases of child sexual abuse, 7% of abusers are strangers, 59% of abusers are acquaintances, and 34% of abusers are family members.
- Abusers have many different relationships with the victim, including (but not limited to) sibling or friend, family member, teacher, coach, caretaker, parent, or stepparent.
- RAINN defines grooming as “manipulative behaviors that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught.” Grooming includes choosing victims based on ease of access/perceived vulnerability, gaining access and isolating the victim, creating a trusting relationship where the victim keeps secrets, desensitizing the victim to sexual touch and conversation, and attempting to frame the abusive behaviors as normal and natural.
- According to Joshua Center, “Disclosure is a process, not a singular event. This means that disclosures often occur over a period of time and are impacted by external factors, such as relationships and life circumstances. These factors can include the child’s relationship to the abuser, the child’s fear of disrupting the survivor’s home life, or negatively impacting other family members. A child’s decision to disclose is often complicated due to their uncertainty of what will happen after the disclosure. Most youth (60-80%) who experience sexual abuse do not disclose until adulthood, and many never do at all.” If you have a safe and trusting relationship that helped a young person feel strong enough to disclose, please review the resources below for help on how to respond and support the child
Resources to Support Survivors
- The Family Enhancement Center Advocacy Team offers individualized support, resources, and advocacy services for victims and their caregivers. Services include helping make child protection and police reports, help families learn what to expect through the investigative and legal process, short term trauma informed parenting coaching, and accessing resources families may need in response to the abuse disclosure (i.e. therapy, affordable legal services, etc). This team can be reached at 612-429-8266 and will respond within 2 business days.
- How and When Do Youth Disclose Abuse?
- I Suspect a Child is Being Harmed… Now What?
- These conversations can be hard! Here are some Tips for Talking with Survivors
- Though the focus is often on girls and young women, Males can be Victims, Too
- Youth make sense of the world through recreating scenarios they may not understand. Understanding Sexualized Behaviors is important so we can help youth make sense of the abuse and heal in a safe way.
- Sometimes conversations about safety and abuse are hard to start. The Protect Yourself Series and Stop the Sexual Secrets that Hurt Series can be great starting points.
United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. Child Maltreatment Survey, 2016 (2018).
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and Offenders (1997).
David Finkelhor, Anne Shattuck, Heather A. Turner, & Sherry L. Hamby, The Lifetime Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Assessed in Late Adolescence, 55 Journal of Adolescent Health 329, 329-333 (2014)
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement (2000).
H.M Zinzow, H.S. Resnick, J.L. McCauley, A.B. Amstadter, K.J. Ruggiero, & D.G. Kilpatrick, Prevalence and risk of psychiatric disorders as a function of variant rape histories: results from a national survey of women. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 47(6), 893-902 (2012).
United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. Child Maltreatment Survey. Exhibit 5-2 Selected Maltreatment Types by Perpetrator’s Sex. Page 65. (2013).