I was curious what are the statistics now? I had researched a lot about this topic 20 years ago, I wondered what are they currently.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), www.RAINN.org:
- 1 in 6 American women has been the victim on an attempted or completed rape in her life time.
- 9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.
- 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12
- 29% are age 12-17
- 44% are under age 18
- Girls 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.
- 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said that they have been sexually abused.
- 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker
- 34% of attackers were family members
- 58% were acquaintances
- Only 7% of perpetrators were strangers to the victims
Sourced from RAINN website: https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims
WOW! The numbers don’t surprise me. They sadden me. These statistics only represent the reported assaults; where the victim got the courage to tell someone. One of my oldest friends told me the summer after our high school graduation that I was the 10th friend to come to her that school year and tell her that they had been sexually assaulted in some way.
That last sentence should touch us. I can’t tell you how much it still makes me ache. I don’t even know who they all were; she only told me one other person’s name. I would love to know how they are now in life. Did they tell other people? Did they get help? Did they just bottle it up? Did they just tell themselves that it didn’t matter? That they didn’t matter? Do they still have contact with the person that hurt them? Have they healed? Can they talk about it without pain? How did they find healing?
In the recent Facebook thread that I read one of the women for the first time-in a closed Facebook thread admitted that she had been assaulted. She has never told. She is afraid that her family wouldn’t support her or believe her. She is a grown women…guessing with children of her own, since this was a homeschool group.
My heart broke for her. It makes me well up now as I am writing. I can’t imagine living most of my adult life and never being free to tell, to talk about it. For me talking about it was a major part of my healing process. In fact if I am in situations where that topic is not welcome, I get upset. I get frustrated with my family on occasion when I feel shushed or told to shut it down or off. (Granted I have been able to talk about it for years…there is more here –but the feeling is still there).
I always wanted and felt that I needed to join or be a part of a support group relating to this topic of sexual assault. But for many reasons that just didn’t happen. I did have lots of therapy over the years and in fact with –at least one great counselor. But he was male. And as wonderful as he is I still felt like he wasn’t going to fully understand –since he hadn’t been a victim.
So here I am. The real reason I wanted to start a blog. I have always believed that I should tell my story of what God has done in my life in spite of my situations. And what I allowed God to do in my life. I believe that I am supposed to keep talking about sexual assault and how it impacts people individually, collectively, in our families, and in our communities. I clung to the belief that God would somehow use what happened to me for His good and to help others. How exactly? I don’t know. I never really knew. I just always answered someone’s questions if they ask. I kind of believed that God was in those moments; that they were divine appointments. I believed that one day I would tell larger groups of people; maybe in churches or women’s groups. But I have been patient. I have been busy with my life; my husband, my son, jobs, moves…life.
Recently, my husband said, “Why are you not doing something about this belief? Why are you not finding a way?” I had to really think about it. As I mentioned last month in my first blog, it was fear.
So I finally started. But I didn’t know how to transition into talking about my past and how God has worked in it. Then I kept seeing topics related to sexual assault in my Facebook threads, then someone I met recently told me about some volunteer work she is doing in helping others and it is sexual assault related. It seems like I just needed a nudge.
I think about sexual assault from two perspectives now: First from my perspective; a survivor of repeated sexual assault as a teenager and secondly as a parent; as a mom, how to raise my son to truly understand what is appropriate, what is abuse and what that really means.
So I want to start with a positive. I live a very blessed life. I have a wonderful loving husband who loves the Lord, his wife and son. I have relationships with my mother, father, brother as well as step parents and in laws. My life is full and growing as a person, a mother, a wife and a child of God.
There were times I wondered if I would ever have those things. There were times I didn’t know if I would ever talk to my mother, father or brother again. There were times when I wondered if I would ever find a good man…let alone someone who loved the Lord. There were times that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have children. There were times I wondered if I would ever stop hurting, if I would ever feel whole, if I would ever feel normal. Not set apart. I always felt different. Would I ever be able to talk about my childhood without bitterness? Would I ever be able to talk about the abuse without bitterness? Would I ever be able to talk about my mom and past hurts without bitterness and pain? Would I ever be able to talk about my dad and past hurts without bitterness and pain?
It has taken over 20 years, but yes I can! To all of those questions.
Does it mean that there are moments that something might creep up again? Yes, of course, on occasion something will and when it does I pray and remember the healing that has come and I can let it go now.
I hope and pray that those of you reading this will find some hope and healing in my sharing and share with others.