Sexual abuse can be characterized by many different things. In Canada, the term sexual assault is used to cover a broad range of criminal sexual acts.
Sexual abuse can involve molestation, which is the touching of any body part with a sexual intent; innuendo or harassment either physical or verbal; or forced sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex (this can be with a human, an object or an animal).
Even reading these things may make many readers shiver and flip to something else. The purpose of me saying these things is not to disgust you, but to attempt to reach those one in three women reading this article who have experienced sexual abuse and offer EmpowHER.com’s resources to help you overcome the barriers resulting from such abuse.
Sexual abuse—though not exclusively from other forms of abuse—can strongly affect our relationships with members of the opposite sex and can dictate whether we live our lives as victims or as survivors. There is a vast difference!
The disturbing reality is that:
- In 1999, 35 percent of girls between grades 7 and 12 had been sexually abused, with 17-year-old girls reporting the highest rate of sexual abuse at 20 percent
- 95 percent of all child abusers are the father, foster father or stepfather or another relative or close family friend of the victim
- Incestuous relationships last an average of seven years
- 75 percent of mothers are not aware of the incest in the family
- “While children and youth under the age of 18 represent only one-fifth of the population (21%), they were victims in 61% of all sexual offences reported to police in 2002” (www.littlewarriors.ca)
- “In 2005, the rate of sexual assault against children and youth was over five times higher than for adults” (www.littlewarriors.ca – emphasis mine)
And the scary statistics continue. The truth is, many of those reading this article and visiting this site likely fall into these statistics. But while these numbers reflect sexual abuse against children, that doesn’t mean that sexual abuse and assaults don’t happen to adult women.
A New Direction