-35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence.
-1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult in the U.S.
– 1 in 5 women and 1 in 38 men have experienced rape or attempted rape during their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
-6,754 clergymen have been listed as “credibly accused” of sexual misconduct in the U.S. as of January 28, 2020.
These statistics highlight that, unfortunately, sexual assault and abuse are widespread across the world. In recent times, many instances of sexual abuse by people in positions of responsibility, trust, and power have been reported in the media. Partners, teachers, doctors, clergy, corporate leaders, boy scout leaders, and coaches are among those accused of horrific sexual assault and abuse.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Anti-sexual violence organizations, universities, and activists have led the conversation around sexual violence for years, and this month offers time to reflect on what has been done and what still remains to be done.
Sexual abuse and assault can take many forms. As a society, we must be vigilant and ensure that it does not occur in any of our spaces.
Children are extremely vulnerable and must be protected against all harm. Unfortunately, they fall prey to abuse from family members, teachers, coaches, and other adults. In 2016, Child Protective Services agencies found that 57,329 children had been victims of sexual abuse.
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Children are not fully developed or capable of giving consent to sexual activity. The emotional, psychological, and physiological impacts of abuse at a tender age can last throughout a survivor’s life. CDC has called it an “adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can impact how a person thinks, acts, and feels over a lifetime, resulting in short- and long-term physical and mental/emotional health consequences.”
Here are some scenarios of child abuse that have come to light in recent times:
- Boy Scout Leader Abuse
Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy on February 18, 2020 after reports of over 12,000 cases of sexual assault surfaced against at least 7,800 alleged abusers. Some of these cases dated back to 1965. Scout Masters were found to be assaulting young boys during Boy Scout activities and trips.
- Teacher Abuse
School teachers of both genders have perpetrated sexual assault. In 2015, a survey reported that 3.5 million students in grade 8 through grade 11 (7% of the group surveyed) reported some form of physical sexual abuse. Along with abuse by teachers, schools also need to assure that students are not sexually assaulting their own classmates, especially as part of bullying.
Some of society’s most respected members, clergymen have also been accused of sexual assault by many.
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In a grotesque combination of abuse in a religious and scholarly place, 38 students of an Orthodox Jewish School run by Yeshiva University in New York City accused two prominent rabbis of sexual abuse last year.
A ProPublica database lists 6,754 clergymen credibly accused of sexual misconduct as of January 28, 2020. More than 18,000 survivors have come forward with their stories of sexual abuse in the U.S Catholic Church. The Southern Baptist Church, the largest Protestant denomination in the USA, had hundreds of clergy or staff accused of sexual abuse over two decades.
Clearly, sexual abuse is widespread even in religious, supposedly sacred spaces.
Elders, especially in nursing homes, are also vulnerable to sexual abuse. It believed to be an underreported crime, and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) lists the following as reasons why elders don’t report sexual abuse:
- “They are unable to report, due to physical or mental ability
- They are dependent on the abuser for care and basic needs
- They fear retaliation from the abuser
- They fearing that reporting abuse will lead to them being placed in an institution
- They feeling ashamed to share that a loved one is hurting them or taking advantage of them
- They do not want to get the abuser in trouble, if the abuser is someone that the elder is close to or cares about
There are also times when sexual abuse or assault is reported but isn’t taken seriously because of the victim’s age or assumptions about their mental capabilities.”
Many medical professionals have misused positions of trust and responsibility to sexually abuse patients. Larry Nassar, a former doctor for USA Gymnastics and physician at Michigan State University, was responsible for the sexual assault of more than 150 women. University of Michigan doctor Robert Anderson was known among the student athlete and gay communities for sexual abuse and demanding sexual favors. Ohio State doctor Richard Strauss sexually abused at least 177 male students over decades, reports say. These are just 3 high-profile instances.
Impact on Survivors
Sexual assault, abuse, or rape are never the victim’s fault, yet survivors deal with emotional and physical trauma long after the abuse. We must ensure that survivors are protected and reassured that it isn’t their fault. They should have access to mental health professionals and medical aid. As a community we must support them and help take action against their abusers.
Contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline to connect with trained staff members who can help guide you through your healing and recovery.
Stop Abuse Now
Sexual assault and abuse must be stopped and abusers must be held accountable for their crimes. We must ensure that survivors get justice and compensation for their suffering, and that future generations are prevented from harm.
Our firm works tirelessly to hold abusers accountable and provide relief and justice to survivors. We offer expertise, 100% confidentiality, and compassionate representation to thousands of clients. Contact us at 800-794-0444 for any legal advice about a sexual assault or abuse case.