The Incidence and Prevalence of Sexual Abuse & Its Impact on Child Victims Aurelia Sands Belle, M.Ed., Presenter Capital District Coalition for Sex Offender Management and The Center for Sex Offender Management Albany, NY September 15-16, 2005
Myths About Victims of Sexual Assault • Victims are usually raped by a stranger in a dark alley. • Sexual assault is an impulsive crime of sex conducted by a sexually frustrated man. • Women “cry rape.” • Rape victims are young, sexy women who dress provocatively.
Who are the Victims? • According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: • 67% of all victims of sexual assault were juveniles (under age of 18) at the time of the crime; • More than half of all juvenile victims were under age 12
Who are the Victims? • 34% of all juvenile victims were under age 12 • One of every seven (14%) victims of sexual assault reported to LE were under age 6 NCJ 182990
Who are the Victims?continued • The single age with the greatest proportion of sexual assault victims reported to police was age 14. • The risk of being the victim of forcible rape increased dramatically from age 10-14, where it peaked. • 4-year-olds were at greatest risk of being the victim of a sexual assault for victims under age 12. NCJ 182990
Findings • Rape in America • 62% of victims were under 18 years of age at first assault. • NVAW Survey • 22% of victims were under age 12 at first assault. • 32% of victims were between 12 and 17 years of age at first assault.
Relationship Between Victim and Offender(Rape in America Study) Kilpatrick, Edmunds, & Seymour, (1992). “Rape in America” A Report to the Nation”
Relationship Between Victim and Offender(NVAW Survey) Known Known Tjaden & Thoennes, (1998). “Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women.”
Findings (cont.) • National Survey of Adolescents • N = 4,023 adolescents in U.S. households (age 12-17). • 8.1% reported experiencing at least one sexual assault in their lifetime. • 1.8 million adolescents have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime (based on 1995 U.S. Census data).
Relationship Between Victim and Offender(National Survey of Adolescents) •Nearly 3 in 4 (74%) -- perpetrators were someone the victim knew well. • Almost 1 in 3 (32.5%) -- perpetrators were friends with the victim. • More than 1 in 5 (23.2%) -- perpetrators were strangers to the victim. • About 1 in 5 (21.1%) -- perpetrators were family members of the victim.
Location of Sexual Abuse(National Survey of Adolescents) • 30.5% in the victim’s home. • 23.8% in the victim’s neighborhood. • 15.4% at the victim’s school.
Reporting of Sexual Abuse(National Survey of Adolescents) • 86% NOT reported to the authorities. • 13% reported to police. • 5.8% reported to child protective services. • 5% reported to school authorities. • 1.3% reported to other authorities. *Some cases were reported to more than one authority.
Child Victims of Juvenile Offenders These child victims suffer severest forms of intimidation, harassment, and reprisal from juvenile offenders or their representatives
Sexual Assault and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(National Survey of Adolescents)
Rape in America has been described as: “A tragedy of youth.”
Regressive Behaviors Nightmares Change in sleeping, eating Poor School Function Aggressive behavior Clingy and Fearful Anger Denial/Wanting to forget Shame & Embarrassment Guilt & Self-blame Some Immediate Effectsof Sexual Assault on Child Victims
Initial Mental Health Effects of Child Sexual Abuse • Fear • Anxiety • Low self-esteem • Depression • Anger and hostility • Sexual behavior problems • Aggressive/delinquent behavior • Substance use/ abuse/dependency • Impaired social functioning • Distorted cognitive schemata • Impaired affective processing From Saunders, (1999).
Long-term Mental Health Effects of Child Sexual Abuse • Sexual disorders • PTSD • Depression • Suicidal ideation and attempts • Anxiety disorders • Substance use/ abuse/dependency • Somatic complaints From Saunders, (1999).
Long-term Mental Health Effects of Child Sexual Abuse continued • Personality disorders • Dissociative disorders • Low self-esteem • Impaired social relationships • Increased vulnerability to other victimizations and traumatic experiences From Saunders, (1999).
Other Effects of Child Sexual Abuse • Young adult survivors of child abuse who experienced a recent sexual victimization may also demonstrate ineffective or self destructive coping strategies such as overeating, avoidance behavior or taking prescription drugs. From Arata, (1999).
Other Effects of Child Sexual Abuse (cont.) • Survivors of child sexual abuse are at an increased risk of: • becoming adjudicated juvenile delinquents, convicted felons, and abusers; • becoming re-victimized as battered women or sexual assault victims; • experiencing mental health problems; and • abusing alcohol and drugs as a means of coping with post traumatic stress disorder. From Kilpatrick and Saunders, (1997) and Widom, (1992) .
Effects of Victimization Research has identified a significant link between childhood abuse and both future delinquency and adult criminal behavior.
Victims’ Major NeedsResearch Findings • Information • Being believed • Not being blamed
Crisis Response Emergency medical treatment Mental Health services Information about victim compensation Information about the JJS and processes relevant to victims Description of JJS “jargon” Information about case & offender status Victims’ Most Salient Needs
Notice about key proceedings Information about the offender’s FLOs (including restitution) Guidance with Victim Impact Statements Information about protection & personal safety Information about JJS-supported and community-based victim services Victim’s Most Salient Needs continued
Core Victims’ Rights:Notification • 63 possible points of notification (National Center for Victims of Crime) of status and location. • Confidentiality of victims’ requests for notification. • Efforts to keep victims informed and involved.
Core Victims’ Rights:Restitution and FLOs • First priority of fines, fees and penalties. • Restitution is key to accountability. • When the issue about “the offender’s ability to pay” is raised, “the victim’s ability to pay” must also be raised. • Providing assistance to victims in documenting short/long-term losses. • Sanctions for non-payment.
Core Victims’ Rights:Protection • Victims may not always express safety concerns -- you need to ask! • Offer all protective measures that apply. • Make sure victims have a 24/7 contact for any safety concerns. • Remember that victim information and notification contribute to victim safety!
Core Victims’ Rights:Input • Victim impact statements that offer insights into financial, emotional and physical losses. • Use of VIS and discussions with victims for offender case planning. • Continued opportunities for victim input is essential to victim safety and offender rehabilitation!