Q: How Common Is Childhood Sexual Abuse?
A: In the United States , studies report that up to one girl in three or four has been sexually abused by age 18 and one boy in four to 10 has been sexually abused. These statistics do not accurately reflect the actual number of sexual abuse occurrences because most abuse goes unreported. According to the FBI only 1% to 10% is ever disclosed and according to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, the average molester of girls will victimize fifty girls before being caught and convicted and the average molester of boys will have victimized 150 boys before being caught and convicted. Further, the typical pedophile commits an average of 117 sexual crimes during his lifetime (280 for those molesting boys). The most vulnerable age for sexual abuse is between 7 and 13 years. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that 54% of sexually abused children are victimized before the age of 7 and 84% before the age of 12.
Additionally, there is research which indicates that children who have been sexually abused by a relative suffers from even more intense guilt and shame, low self-esteem, depression and self-destructive behavior (such as substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and prostitution) than children who have been sexually assaulted by a stranger (Matsakis, 1991).
Twenty-nine percent of female rape victims in America were younger than eleven when they were raped (National Center for Victims of Crime & Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992).
In the United States , at least 20% of women and 5% to 10% of men were sexually abused as children (Finkelhor, 1994).
Bad Policy Hurts Children
While these facts and figures are of importance in understanding how widespread the problem is, the policy that is used to address child abuse issues in an institution can aggravate the problem and work to the advantage of protecting the molester. Why do we say this? At silentlambs we have recorded over 6,000 cases of child molestation from just one institution as a result of bad policy. We have over 1,000 s tori es of these abuses posted on our website from victims that were willing to come forward and tell their story. What kind of s tori es are they? Allow me to share just one with you today:
I am now 36 years OLD, I type that in caps because I feel 100, my body and mind have been broken over the years by the " Brothers." My story starts at a very young age when my father an Elder in the congregation raped me.
Did I state I was four at the time?
Did I also say that my Grandmother and Aunt who both were Pioneers knew of the sexual abuse?
Perhaps I should say I know for sure My Grandmother knew I KNOW my aunt suspected or just ignored "IT."
"IT" was a very strong word in my home
"IT" referred to my mother’s suicide.
"IT "Referred to my Grandfather getting caught touching my friend in an inappropriate manner.
“IT” referred to my Grandmothers Alcoholism, also my Fathers and Grandfathers.
I am now left to sift through the Whys??????
Why did my "Elder" Father rape me and beat my brother and sister.
Why didn't the elders do anything about it?
Why did my Father stop at the age of thirteen????? Wait, I know I started my period!
Why did another "Elder" join my father in sexually tormenting me?
Why when I Went to the Elders WAS I TOLD I NEEDED TWO WITNESSES???? Do you think that my dad and his friend would testify to their wrongdoing against me????
Why do I still suffer??? and wonder if I did the right thing by leaving the Organization?
Why did my mother kill herself?
Why was my Father not excommunicated by the church when 12 years later he went to jail for sexually abusing my Half-sister and some of her Witness Friends????????????????????
Why, why, why.............. Because THEY DO AND CONTINUE TO IGNORE SEXUAL DEVIANTS!
This person in expressing her anguish helps us to see how bad polices can injure a child for life. Her story is just one of many that express the same dynamic. In an institutional setting it is important that child abuse be addressed by proper polices that protect the child first. With recent news reports of Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups it appears bad institutional policy has allowed many children to be hurt. What makes bad policy? Three basic areas are identified.
What happens when these things are not practiced? The following video is a compilation of documentaries that have shown around the world identifying how bad policy in practice hurts children. The video focuses on Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been highlighted in the last few years as having internal polices that protect child molesters. We do not wish to bash any religion and understand there are many people in the JW faith that are good honest people trying to raise and protect their children. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a right to practice their faith as any religion in this country that wants to worship God. The problem begins when leadership enacts bad policy and all members are expected to comply. In the following video you will see this occur in story after story. Hopefully we as a group can learn from this bad example of policy gone wrong and find a basis to enact better polices to protect our children.
Heidi Meyer, Amber Long, Erica Garza, Simon Thomas, Allison Cousins, her sister, Holly and Heather Berry, Simon Brady all say the same thing that they were all traumatized by bad policy. These brave young people by speaking out have helped thousands find closure and seek proper healing and assistance from their abuse. We coined the expression silentlambs for the many thousands out there that have yet to find their voice in speaking out about their abuse. When a person is no longer a silent lamb the take back the power the ab user took away.
What can we learn from this information?
In conclusion I would like to read you a story that was written by William H. Bowen the founder of silentlambs. The story was written in February of 2001 about 3 am in the morning after many troubling thoughts concerning abuse. One week after writing this story Bill started the silentlambs website in March of that year. It kind of set the theme for why we are here as it is a metaphor on speaking out to protect children. The story is called “The Day the Lambs Roared.”
When child abuse victims have the courage to speak out on abuse, bad policy will end and there will no longer be any silent lambs.
If you would like to support this work we ask you make a tax deductible donation to silentlambs. You can also use a credit card if you wish and envelopes will be provided.
The Day The Lambs Roared
P icture if you will, going for a walk in a beautiful forest along a winding path. As the graveled walkway gently descends you realize you are coming to a picturesque mountain valley. As you get closer to the clearing you notice a broad field covered by thousands of sheep. From a distance it looks almost like a paradise, the rolling green meadow with the towering mountains all about, it seems like it is almost perfect. As you amble closer to the flock you sense something is not right. It is one of those things that you feel at first but then a slow realization p rick les down the back of your neck. What is it? Throughout this valley with literally thousands of lambs there is a total silence. How could this be? You draw closer and then you notice other things. The lambs appear to be abused. Some are underfed and appear to be weak, others seem to have massive scars across their bodies, yet others just lay there and do not move, it is as if they have lost a will to live. What is even more bizarre is that you notice many have destroyed their lives by trying to swim a large river that runs through the valley and its banks are strewn with small lifeless bodies.
Then you see them, well dressed, clean cut and well fed, it is the shepherds. They have an air about them, they seem firmly in command. It is not long after this discovery you find the reason the lambs are silent. Across the valley comes a small bleat, a lamb has managed to pin itself between two rocks, it is in trouble and needs help. It seems to be almost in an instant that three shepherds rush over and begin beating the lamb with their staffs. You try to shout stop! Don’t do that! But it is to no avail, this one will not make it, it is to late. It is then you realize the shepherds heard your shouts and are moving toward you, now you fear for your own safety. You begin a swift walk to get away, but they sped up their pace. You begin to run but they are gaining and then at that moment something happens. A small ram steps between you and the shepherds and with all his might makes a sound that betrays his anger, his pain, and frustration for living a life of fear. The shepherds are startled at first and the other sheep look at the little ram like he is crazy, but the shepherds quickly move to end the problem and gather around him, this is surely the end, but across the valley comes another sound much like the first except this one is even more piercing, it has the sound akin to a woman’s scream and again the shepherds divide their number to address the problem. But then there is another but it is deeper and has the sense of rage unleashed at that very moment. Then another weaker but no less angry, then another, another, another and soon the sound is reaching across the valley. Each lamb starts lending their voice and the sound starts to become deafening. The shepherds are rolling on the ground holding their ears in pain, but the sound continues to rise, louder and louder until the mountains around start to shake, rocks and boulders come tumbling down and yet the sound continues to grow. Trees are shattered and the river is dried up as the mountain begins to fill it. Yet still the sound continues to grow. You fall to the ground and hang on for dear life as a massive earthquake rocks the entire valley. Everything is flattened and you think it is never going to end. As the earth moves you are hit by a tree branch and knocked unconscious.
Finally, you awaken and are amazed to see what lies before you. No barriers, the mountains are no more, the shepherds are gone, swallowed by the earth and no longer a threat, the river is just a gentle stream now with easy access. Then you notice the lambs, they were a bit worse for the wear, battered, bruised, and still scarred, but different. They moved freely now amon g one another on a long level plain. It was not just the movement it was the sound, soft bleats and gentle baas waft across the land. They seemed to have a sense of direction as the flock moved away as one. It was true they were not cured of their ills, they do not have great security as before, as to what their new life would be, they did not know, what they do know is that they would never live again as a silent lamb.