Sexual abuse is epidemic. Research indicate that about one in three women and one in four to seven men have been victims of sexual abuse as children. Adults forms of sexual abuse, such as date, acquaintance, and stranger rape, and other types of sexual exploitation are also extremely prevalent.
No one is immune to sexual abuse. Sexual abuse happens to women and men of all races, ages, cultures, religions, socioeconomic levels, and sexual orientations.
Victims of sexual abuse are not to blame. The responsibility for sexual abuse rests solely with the offender.
Sexual abuse id difficult to remember. It is estimated that about half of all survivors suffer from some form of memory loss. It is often not until survivors feel supported and secure that they begin to recall their sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse id difficult to disclose. Because of feelings of shame, embarrassment, or fear, many victims of sexual abuse do not report sexual abuse experiences. Many survivors have endured years of silent silent suffering.
Sexual abuse has serious long lasting effects. The trauma of sexual abuse can be at the root of many psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, low self esteem, self abusive behaviors, social problems, sexual problems, and food, chemical, or sexual addictions. In addition, sexual abuse has been linked with such medical problems as headaches, asthma, heart palpitations, stomach pain, spastic colon, pelvic pain, fainting, dizziness, and a variety of chronic physical complaints.
Recovery is possible. Survivors can recover from the effects of sexual abuse using steps that involve recognizing effects, dealing with memories, overcoming guilt feelings, developing self trust, grieving for loss, expressing anger, disclosing the abuse, resolving feelings toward the offender, improving health care and learning that sex can be safe, healthy, and enjoyable.
A variety of resources for healing have become available to help survivors recover. These include books, tapes, newsletters, television discussions, websites, counseling centers, support groups, sexual abuse organizations and conferences.