Statistics reveal that juvenile delinquency among females has risen at an alarming rate. The number of reported occurances of sexual abuse appear to correspond with the number of repeated arrests for girls. Because of repeat offenses, many young girls have memorized the Miranda Rights dialogue. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law .”
Many teen age girls who have been victimized by childhood sexual abuse, and revictimized by subsequent rapes, have felt compelled to remain silent. They have lived in fear that talking about the repeat assaults could and would be held against them in the courts of opinions, judgment and condemnation. I know this because I am one of the adult survivors of what is referred to as revictimization from child sexual abuse.
As adolescents, the burden of silence easily gives way to guilt for not having told for so long. At the same time, the movies that depicted child molestation as a brutal and clearly devastating trauma caused many of us to doubt if our experiences warranted disclosure. After all, there were no visible scars to prove abuse. So we tucked in our confusion and self loathing, waiting for atonement and retribution that always seemed to be a distant fantasy. We longed to escape the torment that comes from hiding a past in the fear of exposure and rejection. Yet the risk of traumatic exposure did not subdue the aching to tell someone anyone that might help.
Here are some statistics to consider:
Adult survivors of child sexual abuse may exhibit depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, dissociation, and low self- esteem.
55.4% of women who reported childhood sexual abuse also reported being subsequently raped. Revictimization occurred for only 20.2% of rape victims who did not report being sexually abused as children. Child sexual assault victims were 4.7 times more likely to be subsequently raped. Women who were both physically and sexually abused as children reported the highest rates of subsequent rapes (According to Diana Russell, author of The Incidence and Prevalence of Intrafamilial and Extrafamilial Sexual Abuse of Female).
As an ordained minister, I became aware of a growing number of youth reporting that they have been sexually abused. I recently spoke to a high school principal who explained that there appeared to be an epidemic with girls (who have become behavior problems) also reporting being sexually assaulted. Speaking with the families, the vast majority of these reports have proven to be accurate. The most alarming concern is how child sexual abusers are emerging out of the juvenile population. In other words the victims are becoming young angry predators.
While girls are offering the greatest number of reports, boys are also victims of this type of assault and subsequent revictimization. We need to aggressively act upon eliminating this threat to our children as well as offer mental health and recovery services. Parents and caregivers as well as other youth serving agencies need to become pro active with securing supportive resources and information to help prevent revictimization from child sexual abuse.
Here are some online resources that can be contacted for more information:
The resources above are national resources to find help in your area.