America is caught in the grip of a silent plague that affects nearly 39 million people and its ripple effect across the areas of crime, law enforcement, healthcare and finance costs Americans trillions of dollars every year. What’s worse, it is the most underreported crisis in the country, and according to one expert, the silence surrounding the issue only allows its perpetrators more opportunity and its victims less shelter from harm.
“Sexual abuse affects the lives of one in four girls and one in six boys by the age of 18,” said Trish Kinney, a Huffington Post Blogger and survivor of a sexually abusive household. “With an estimated 39 million sex abuse victims in the U.S. today, more than 30 percent of all sexual abuse goes unreported. Carry over the fact that 80 percent of perpetrators deny the abuse, it makes for a crisis of massive proportions.”
The effect of abuse manifests itself in many ways, according to statistics from a wide array of studies, reported by the Darkness to Light foundation:
·Children who have been victims of sexual abuse are more likely to experience physical health problems (e.g., headaches).
·Victims of child sexual abuse report more symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, more sadness, and more school problems than non-victims.
·Victims of child sexual abuse are more likely to experience major depressive disorder as adults.
·Young girls who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders as adolescents.
·Adolescent victims of violent crime have difficulty in the transition to adulthood, are more likely to suffer financial failure and physical injury, and are at risk to fail in other areas due to problem behaviors and outcomes of the victimization.
·Victims of child sexual abuse report more substance abuse problems. 70-80 percent of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use.
·Young girls who are sexually abused are 3 times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders or alcohol and drug abuse in adulthood, than girls who are not sexually abused.
·Among male survivors, more than 70 percent seek psychological treatment for issues such as substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide. Males who have been sexually abused are more likely to violently victimize others.
·Nearly 50 percent of women in prison state that they were abused as children.
·Over 75 percent of serial rapists report they were sexually abused as youngsters.
Kinney recounted her experiences in a sexually abusive household in her autobiography, Silver Platter Girl, from Seven Locks Press (www.silverplattergirl.com), and like many of the silent masses, was afraid of confronting family members who were not flattered by certain revelations.
“Instead of being a proud first time published author, I have been sick with worry over what it would do to a handful of other people whose very personal stories are intertwined with my own, how my children would feel knowing certain things about their parents that no child should have to know, how it would affect my business, and whether it was the right thing to do,” said Kinney. “No, there has been no celebrating. But I figure that if someone has the nerve to tell, tell it all, every painful detail in a published book, then maybe we can desensitize our culture and we will no longer feel stained by what happened to us and by telling what happened to us. By ending the silence, we can begin to end the plague and all the horrific side effects it continues to have on our nation and our children.”