Sexually Abused Child Trauma Response by Age Group

Sexually Abused Child Trauma Response by Age Group

It can often be very difficult to recognize whether or not a child is being abused, both for parents and for professionals.

Children respond to sexual assault in many different ways according to their age, gender, personality and family circumstances. Their behavior will always reflect how they feel as children tend to communicate through their behavior. Children frequently find it extremely hard to talk about what is happening to them, especially when they’ve been told to keep it a secret or have been subjected to coercion, bribery or threats. Children very rarely lie about sexual abuse. They may underplay the effects of the abuse or change the identity of the perpetrator in an attempt to protect the family, but they have not been found to lie about the occurrence of the abuse itself.

Generally speaking there are two main behavioral indicators of trauma following sexual abuse. Regression to an earlier developmental stage or loss of developmental tasks previously achieved and failure to learn or distortion of new developmental tasks.

Signs of Trauma Responses in Preschoolers (age 2-5)

  • They may become anxious and clingy, not wanting to separate from their parents at day care or the baby-sitter’s house.
  • They may seem to take a backward step in development (regression), sucking their thumbs, wetting their beds, refusing to go to sleep, or waking at night when they passed those stages long ago.
  • They may become aggressive in their play with other children, with their parents, or with their own toys.
  • They may play the same game over and over, like piling blocks and knocking them down, dropping toys behind furniture and retrieving them, or crashing the same two cars over and over again.
  • They may express ‘magical’ ideas about what happened to them which alters their behavior (ex: “Bad things happen when I get too happy”).
  • Though they say they are having fun in an activity they may look sullen, angry, or intense in a way that to an adult it doesn’t look like they are having fun.

Signs of Trauma Responses in School Age Children (age 5-13)

  • They may revert to developmentally earlier coping mechanisms, such as an ego-centered view (i.e. thinking that someone died because they had bad thoughts about the person).
  • They may compensate for feeling helpless during the crisis of the abuse by blaming themselves for what happened. Thinking that thtey caused the event gives children a sense of power and control while helplessness painfully reminds them of being young and totally dependent.
  • Their lack of control over the abuse may make them feel that their future is unsure, which can lead some children to act recklessly.
  • They may experience a significant change in school performance. It’s not uncommon for children to have great difficulty concentrating and performing in school following trauma. On the other hand, they may become intensely focused on schoolwork to the exclusion of other activities in an effort to cope.
  • They may test out rules about bedtime, homework, or chores. School age children believe in rules. When something bad happens, even if they obeyed the rules, they become oppositional and testy.
  • They may have interruptions in their friendships.
  • They may experience sleep disturbances, nightmares, and difficulty falling asleep.
  • They may engage in reckless play. Where the preschool child will crash their truck a hundred times, the school age child might physically engage in dangerous games as a way of exhibiting a sense of control that was lost during the abuse.

 

Signs of Trauma Responses in Teenagers (age 13-18)

  • They often feel that no one can understand what they are going through and there is a marked shift in relationships with parents and peers.
  • They may get involved in risky behaviors, such as experimenting with drugs, sexual activity, or refusing to go to school as a way of handling anxiety and countering feelings of helplessness. They feel their future is limited and may believe they are damaged for good by the abuse so planning for the future is pointless.
  • They develop a negative self image because they were not able to avoid or alter what happened to them.
  • They are likely to engage in revenge fantasies against the person or people responsible for the abuse and then feel guilty about their vengeful feelings.
  • They may experience a shift (either an intensification or withdrawal) in the normal developmental tasks of their age, such as dating, friendships, or sense of autonomy. They may isolate themselves, be depressed and at risk of suicide.

 

Some More Specific Behaviors Of Children Following Sexual Assault.

Wetting/soiling

Many young children lose bladder/bowel control following sexual assault. It can be frustrating for parents and cause extra work. It can be humiliating and embarrassing for children. It is easy for adults and children to focus on the consequences of wetting and soiling e.g. changing sheets/clothes, washing, rather than the reasons why it happens.

All children bed wet from time to time when they are sick, stressed or anxious. Children who have been sexually assaulted will often bed wet every night and sometimes more than once a night. Bedwetting can be linked to feelings and may be a result of nightmares. Extreme fear can cause loss of bladder control and may serve the purpose of waking a child from a terrifying dream.

Bedwetting can also result from feelings of helplessness when children feel a loss of ownership and power over their body when it has been used by someone more powerful than they are. Bedwetting can be a reflection of children regressing in many ways, following sexual assault, when they lose a number of skills they previously had. Children may regress to a younger state to try and get their needs met. Bedwetting and soiling may also occur because a child separates from their genital/urinary/anal areas. They may lose the ability to respond to their body cues and therefore become less able to regulate their toilet habits. Sometimes children may be scared to actually go to the toilet. They may have experienced sexual assault in a bathroom or their fears may focus on the toilet itself.

 

Nightmares

All children have bad dreams from time to time but children who have experienced sexual assault often have nightmares every night sometimes more than once. They may have recurring dreams which are all the more frightening because they know what is coming. Nightmares can make children terrified of the dark and bed time.

Their dreams are likely to reflect their fears and their sense of lack of control. Looking at the content of their dreams can help them to talk about what has happened.

 

Persistent Pains

Lots of children develop aches and pains that have no physical cause. These will often have a connection to an aspect of the assault. Sometimes if a child has experienced physical pain during the assault, their body can retain the memory of this pain. Children may also think that something is broken inside of them. Repeated pain can also be a way for children to gain the extra love and attention they need at the time. Sometimes emotions manifest themselves physically for children because they do not have the ability to put it in to words.

 

Clinginess

A clingy child can test the patience of a saint! This behavior which is so common after sexual assault is a communication of a real need to be reassured of being lovable and of being secure. Children are attempting to rebuild a sense of safety and trust through their relationships with close adults. They are trying to restore a sense of good touch by demanding affection and cuddles. In essence, they are trying to heal their wounds. Constant physical and verbal demands can be difficult for parents but can be modified by identifying what the child needs and putting limits on when and how they are met. Clinginess can also reflect fears which can be reduced by talking about them.

 

Aggression

Aggression in children after sexual assault tends to be related to fear and anger. It can be a direct communication that states “I am never going to be hurt again”. Anger is a healthy response and a necessary part of the recovery process from any trauma. It needs to be expressed in a safe and constructive way with firm limits against hurting yourself or others. To do this, anger needs to be acknowledged and recognized by the child and the adult. A child needs opportunities to discharge their anger. If this, for whatever reason, does not happen then anger is likely to come out through aggression. This causes the child more problems as their aggression prevents other people seeing or understanding the child’s needs.

Aggression also stems from fear and a need to protect themselves from further hurt.

Being aggressive can also cause a child to punish themselves and confirm their low self esteem because they have no friends and are always in trouble.

 

Sexualized Behavior

When children are sexually assaulted their sense of what is right and wrong becomes distorted. What they had previously learned about bodies and sexual activity becomes invalid. If a child was shown how to light a fire, for example, it is likely that the child will attempt to repeat what they saw. If children have learned that they get attention by being sexual with one person they may well repeat the behavior with another person. If children have experienced sexual feelings, which are common in children who have been sexually assaulted, they are likely to try and recreate those reactions. They may begin to sexually act out with other children to try and make sense of what has happened to them. Their curiosity about sexual matters may have been activated years before they develop the intellectual ability to understand. Children may want to sexually act out on other children to make them feel less vulnerable in the same way they may be aggressive. The trouble they may get into as a result of this behavior then confirms their view of themselves as dirty and bad.

Sexual acting out by children needs to be distinct from what is natural curiosity. Sexual acting out usually involves a difference in power between the children and may involve coercion/force or blackmail and a repetition of an adult sexual activity.

Normal sexual activity between children is about exploration not gratification (Martinson 1991 in Hunter 1996). Up to the age of 5, children are interested in touching their private parts and looking and touching the private parts of others if they have the opportunity. From 6 to 10 children have learned that sexual activity should be hidden and will masturbate secretly. They may create situations with their peers that involve looking and possibly touching. (Attempted or actual penetration and activities using force are not normal). They are likely to be curious about adult bodies. Early adolescents will masturbate and begin to develop relationships that involve a range of touching.

Sexual acting out in children who have been assaulted will involve either the child repeating what has been done to them on other children or getting other children to do to them what the offender did. It can also involve children approaching adults in a sexual way. It does not mean that the child automatically becomes an offender but it is an indication that professional help is needed.

 

Triggers & Recovery

Everyone who has suffered a trauma will react when they are reminded of it. The things that remind us can be called ‘triggers’ and they cause similar feelings to those experienced during the trauma. Very often these ‘triggers’ are not known to the adult because they relate to an aspect of the assault the parent may not know about. Some examples include the smell of beer or smoke; the feel of a beard; the color of a car; someone resembling the offender; a song or a game. Some are obvious, others are not. Often children can be triggered by unrelated things going wrong because that triggers their feelings of helplessness.

When children are triggered then their behavior tends to reflect the fact that they are experiencing similar feelings to the ones they felt during the assaults. Parents should be encouraged to discuss with the child what sort of things trigger them, so they are all aware of situations when it may occur.

The behaviors that children exhibit after sexual assault do tend to pass in time as children regain a sense of safety and self control. When the feelings that drive the behavior are explored, they become less powerful and the behavior becomes more manageable. Establishing a link between the feeling and the behavior is important as it gives you an understanding of what is happening.

Children can and do recover from sexual assault. The long term effects of sexual assault are often caused by secrecy, fear and denial of feelings. The more open and honest you can be about what happened the easier it is for children to be the same and the quicker the recovery.

From: http://www.secasa.com.au/index.php/family/13/44

Psychological Effects of Child Sexual Assault

 

Child sexual assault can have a number of effects both physical and psychological that last both in the short term and the long term. Outline below are some common effects which can occur as a result of childhood sexual assault.

 

Psychological Effects:

  • Fear. The offender may swear the child to secrecy and say something bad will happen if they tell. Coercion, bribery, or threats usually accompany sexual abuse. Overwhelmingly, the child is afraid to tell be cause of what the consequences might be, such as punishment, blame, not being believed, and ultimate rejection or abandonment.
  • Helplessness/Powerlessness. Children in this situation often feel that they have no control over their own lives or even over their own bodies. They feel that they have no choices available to them.
  • Guilt and Shame. The child knows something is wrong, but blames him or herself, not others. The offender will often encourage the child to feel that the abuse is his or her fault and as a consequence, is a “bad” person.
  • Responsibility. The offender coerces the child to feel responsible for concealing the abuse. The child then believes they are responsible for preserving the secret in order to keep their family together and to maintain appearances at all costs. The burden of this responsibility interferes with all normal childhood development and experiences.
  • Isolation. Incest victims feel different from other children. They must usually be secretive. This further isolates them from non-offending parents and brothers and sisters. This isolation often leads to the child being labeled as “different,” “a problem,” or in some way different from their siblings.
  • Betrayal. Children feel betrayed because they are dependent upon adults for nurturing and protection and the offender is someone who they should be able to love and trust. They may also feel betrayed by a non-offending parent who they believe has failed to protect them.
  • Anger. Children most often direct their feelings of anger in several ways.

1.      They may direct it outward at perceived “little things.”

2.      They may direct it inward, affirming their feelings of low self worth/value.

3.      Almost never direct their anger towards the abuser while still in a relationship with them. Anger is most often dealt with as an adult.

  • Sadness. Children may feel grief due to a sense of loss, especially if the perpetrator was loved and trusted by the child.
  • Flashbacks. These can be like nightmares which happen while the child is awake. They are a re-experience of the sexual assault as it occurred at that time. As an adult, a survivor may experience the same type of omnipotent fear that they experienced as a child. Flashbacks can be triggered by many things. By a smell, a mannerism, a phrase, a place, or a wealth of other environmental factors that may have significance.

 

From: http://www.secasa.com.au/index.php/survivors/5/145

 

 

Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault

There are many reactions that survivors of rape and sexual assault can have. But for adult survivors of childhood abuse there are reactions that may either be different or stronger than for other survivors. These include:

Setting Limits/Boundaries
  • Because your personal boundaries were invaded when you were young by someone you trusted and depended on, you may have trouble understanding that you have the right to control what happens to you.
Memories/Flashbacks
  • Like many survivors, you may experience flashbacks.
Anger
  • This is often the most difficult emotion for an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse to get in touch with.
  • As a child your anger was powerless and had little to no effect on the actions of your abuser. For this reason you may not feel confident that your anger will be useful or helpful.
Grieving/Mourning
  • Being abused as a child means the loss of many things- childhood experiences, trust, innocence, normal relationship with family members
    • You must be allowed to name those losses, grieve, and then bury them.
Guilt, Shame, and Blame
  • You may carry a lot of guilt because you may have experienced pleasure or because you did not try to stop the abuse.
  • There may have been silence surrounding the abuse that led to feelings of shame.
  • It is important for you to understand that it was the adult who abused his/her position of authority and should be held accountable, not you.
Trust
  • Learning to trust again may be very difficult for you.
  • You may go from one extreme to the other, not trusting at all to trusting too much.
Coping Skills
  • You have undoubtedly developed skills in order to cope with the trauma.
    • Some of these are healthy (possibly separating yourself from family members, seeking out counseling, etc.)
    • Some are not (drinking or drug abuse, promiscuous sexual activity, etc.)
Self-esteem/Isolation
  • Low self-esteem is a result of all of the negative messages you received and internalized from your abusers.
  • Because entering into an intimate relationship involves trust, respect, love, and the ability to share, you may flee from intimacy or hold on too tightly for fear of losing the relationship.
Sexuality
  • Your first initiation into sex may have been nonconsensual.
  • You may experience the return of body memories while engaging in a sexual activity with another person. Such memories may interfere in your ability to engage in sexual relationships which may leave you feeling frightened, frustrated, or ashamed.

http://www.rainn.org/get-information/effects-of-sexual-assault/adult-survivors-of-childhood-sexual-abuse

 

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Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

 

Child sexual abuse is the exploitation of a child for the gratification or profit of an adult. Sexual abuse can range from exhibitionism and fondling to intercourse or use of a child in the production of pornographic materials. Sexual abuse also may result in physical injury or be accompanied by other signs of abuse or neglect. Sexual abuse generally is perpetrated by someone known to the child and frequently continues over a prolonged period of time. Often it does not involve sexual intercourse or physical force. The incidence is estimated at 100,000 to 250,000 cases per year; however this type of abuse is difficult to detect and confirm.

 

 

PHYSICAL SIGNS

 

Any of the following physical signs may indicate abuse:

  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Thickening and/or hyperpigmentation of the labial skin (especially when it resolves during out-of-home placement)
  • Horizontal diameter of vaginal opening that exceeds 4mm in prepubescent girls
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
  • Bruises or bleeding of the genitalia, perineum, or perianal area
  • Vaginal discharge and/or pruritus
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Gonococcal infection – Pharynx, Urethra, Rectum, Vagina
  • Syphilis
  • Genital herpes
  • Trichomonas
  • Chlamydial infection when resent beyond first six months of life (may be present at birth up to 6 months)
  • Lymphogranuloma venereum
  • Nonspecific vaginitis
  • Candidiasis
  • Pregnancy
  • Sperm or acid phosphatase on body or clothes; sperm in the urine of a female child
  • Lax rectal tone

 

BEHAVIORAL SIGNS

 

Children may display a wide range of psychological reactions to sexual abuse. Reactions depend on the age of the child, emotional maturity, nature of the incident, duration of sexual abuse, and the child’s relationship to the offender. The child may:

  • Confide in a relative, friend, or teacher; the disclosure may either be overt or subtle and indirect
  • Become withdrawn and daydream excessively
  • Evidence poor peer relationships
  • Experience poor self-esteem
  • Seem frightened or phobic, especially of adults
  • Experience distortion of body image
  • Express general feelings of shame or guilt
  • Exhibit a sudden deterioration in academic performance
  • Show pseudomature personality development
  • Attempt suicide
  • Exhibit a positive relationship toward the offender
  • Display regressive behavior
  • Display enuresis (wetting self) and/or encopresis (soiling self)
  • Engage in excessive masturbation
  • Engage in highly sexualized play
  • Become sexually promiscuous
  • Have a sexually abused sibling.

Being an Ally by Susan Mooney

Being an Ally (from CALCASA‘s “Support for Survivors” training manual; altered to fit the YWCA)

The most effective advocates are those who can assist survivors in understanding their individual experience in the larger social context of oppression. Women who were able to see a connection between society’s reactions to their experiences of victimization and the status of women in general founded the anti-rape and anti-domestic violence movement. This chapter assumes that you have previously explored the connections between the multiple forms of violence against women and sexism and the connections between sexism and other forms of oppression: racism, heterosexism and transphobia, ableism, classism. The focus here is on how you as an individual can use your awareness of oppression to be an effective counselor and a powerful agent for social change in your community.

We first explore what an ally is and then how being an ally relates to your work as a sexual assault counselor. Included are tips and challenges for the long journey that awaits you.

What is an Ally?

“Epiphinal moments, in many ways, occur only when one is primed for them.”1 A good ally is ever on the prowl for an epiphinal moment, ever mindful of our status in the world and ever watchful for opportunities to use our privileged status to effect social change and interrupt oppressive behaviors and actions. The process of learning how to provide support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, intervene when you witness injustice, and contribute to creating a world that does not tolerate sexual violence is the process of developing skills as an ally.

Allies are persons who seek opportunities to use their knowledge, personal commitment, access to resources (financial and otherwise), and willingness to overcome fear to promote the well-being of a marginalized group or an individual within that group, of which the ally is not a member. It takes courage to act for the benefit of others, particularly if the act requires acknowledging your own status or giving up privilege.
Each of us is a complex person with many facets to our identity; we both need allies and can be an ally to others. For example, a heterosexual woman of color can benefit from the actions and commitment of her white allies; at the same time she can be a powerful ally to lesbians, gays, bisexual people, and transgender people. How and when to be an ally can be confusing and complex, but remember that the more you practice, the more you understand, and the better your skills become. Each of us has within us the ability to act as an ally to others, and your participation in the volunteer training can be a huge step toward increasing your ability to act as an ally.

Being an effective ally to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence requires that you are an ally in every area of their lives. Survivors do not experience sexual assault or domestic violence in isolation from the accumulated total of their life experience. Being a good advocate means you have to understand that a woman experiences of racism, homophobia and transphobia, classism, sizeism, and ableism, combined with sexism, all inform the experience of sexual assault and the process of healing from the experience of victimization. Your commitment to understanding the totality of a woman’s life will make you a more effective advocate. Your dedication to changing the social conditions within which sexual assault and domestic violence exists is an essential component of being a an advocate.

How does being an Ally Relate to your Work as an Advocate?

The more you practice and develop your skills as an ally working to end oppression, the more effective a advocate you will become. Try to think in terms of the ripple effect:
When you drop a stone in a bucket of water, many ripples are produced; they travel out, hit the side of the bucket, start traveling back to the center, and begin crossing and affecting one another’s paths. Eventually the water settles down, but the arrangement of the water in the bucket is forever changed. The ripple effect of your work as an ally is much the same: every act affects the complex social conditions that allow sexual assault to occur and the conditions that influence a survivor’s healing process.
Now let’s apply that image to an example (see below): a heterosexual woman who answers the hot line at the rape crisis center is also involved in PFLAG:

IMPACT OF PFLAG CAMPAIGN RIPPLE EFFECT
In the process of preparing for the PFLAG campaign, the advocate becomes more aware of the emotional and social impact homophobia has on lesbians, gays, bisexual people, and transgender people. The advocate receives a hotline call from a lesbian survivor of same-sex violence. The counselor’s ability to assist the survivor as she sorts through the effect of internalized homophobia on her reaction to her assault is enhanced by increased awareness.
PFLAG campaign includes presentation to law enforcement on hate crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexual people, and transgender people, during which a couple of officers show that they are very sensitive to the issue. The advocate’s ability to assist the survivor in realistically assessing the potential outcome of reporting the assault to the police is enhanced. The counselor has increased access to officers who are more likely to respond to the survivor’s experience sensitively.
The law enforcement officers who are sensitive to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues notice that the majority of officers in attendance are not educated on these issues. Working with the rape crisis center to assist the lesbian survivor makes the officers aware that their department’s response to incidents of same-sex violence can be improved, and they work as allies with the rape crisis center to get more training included in courses at the police academy.
The advocate passes out leaflets at the local mall as part of the campaign and talks to dozens of people, one of whom she tells about her work at the rape crisis center, A lesbian survivor of child sexual assault calls the hotline; she is willing to make the call because her friend tells her about her conversation with the advocate at the mall so she thinks the rape crisis center will be a safe place for her.
The advocate mentions to the crisis line coordinator that she is involved in the campaign, and the rape crisis center ends up endorsing PFLAG’s campaign. A number of lesbians in the community notice this relationship and call the rape crisis center to inquire about volunteering.

Sexual Assault: Coping Mechanisms

Survivors of sexual assault, childhood sexual assault, and domestic violence often will incorporate any number of coping mechanisms to deal with the pain, anger, sadness, and confusion. Coping mechanisms serve to protect the individual from the overwhelming emotions, which naturally occur after being hurt in this way. Here is a list of some of these coping mechanisms:

  • Minimizing
  • Rationalizing
  • Denying
  • Forgetting
  • Splitting
  • Dissociation (leaving the body)
  • Chaos
  • Spacing out
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Humor
  • Busyness
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Addiction
  • Isolation
  • Eating disorders
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Gambling
  • Avoiding intimacy
  • Sexual compulsion or avoidance

(Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence) Survival Strategies of Children and Teenagers

Survival Strategies of Children & Teenagers

from http://www.lfcc.on.ca/HCT_SWASM_18.html

When faced with a difficult situation, children “cope” by coming to an understanding (possibly distorted) about what is happening and dealing with the flood of hurtful emotions. Their strategies can involve feelings (emotional), thoughts (cognitive), or actions (behavioural).

Some strategies are helpful

  • examples are seeking peers or supportive adults to talk about the feelings
  • young children cannot easily engage in healthy strategies and need adults to buffer them from the harmful consequences of family adversities such as violence

Some strategies are helpful but costly

  • strategies may be helpful during a crisis but not healthy in the long run, such as emotional numbing, self-injury, substance use, having a baby to escape the family, or being an emotional caretaker for a parent
  • these strategies can be a response to a variety of family adversities, including violence and maltreatment
  • an objectively helpful strategy may not “work” while some objectively unhealthy strategies did do
  • they help a child get through a time of stress or crisis, such as when there is violence in the home
  • however, if used after the crisis is over, or in other circumstances, these strategies may create problems
  • the longer a strategy is used, or the more effective it is in shielding a youth from overwhelming emotions and hurt, the harder it may be to extinguish

Once the family is safe, gradually extinguishing strategies with negative effects and replacing them with healthier strategies may be the key to helping children who have lived with family adversities such as violence.


These are some coping strategies commonly observed in children and teenagers who have lived with violence and maltreatment. Remember that coping styles vary with age.

Mental Blocking or Disconnecting Emotionally

  • numbing emotions or blocking thoughts
  • tuning out the noise, learning not to hear it, being oblivious
  • concentrating hard to believe they are somewhere else
  • drinking alcohol or using drugs

Making it Better Through Fantasy

  • planning revenge on abuser, fantasizing about killing him
  • fantasizing about a happier life, living with a different family
  • fantasizing about life after a divorce or after the abuser leaves
  • fantasizing about abuser being “hit by a bus”
  • hoping to be rescued, by super heroes or police or “Prince Charming”

Physical Avoidance

  • going into another room, leaving the house during a violent episode
  • finding excuses to avoid going home
  • running away from home

Looking for Love (and Acceptance) in all the Wrong Places

  • falling in with bad friends
  • having sex for the intimacy and closeness
  • trying to have a baby as a teenager or getting pregnant as a teen to have someone to love you

Taking Charge Through Caretaking

  • protecting brothers and sisters from danger
  • nurturing brothers and Sisters like a surrogate mother / taking the “parent” role
  • nurturing his or her mother

Reaching out for Help

  • telling a teacher, neighbour, or friend’s mother
  • calling the police
  • talking to siblings, friends, or supportive adults

Crying out for Help

  • suicidal gestures
  • self-injury
  • lashing out in anger / being aggressive with others / getting into fights

Re-Directing Emotions into Positive Activities

  • sports, running, fitness
  • writing, journalling, drawing, acting, being creative
  • excelling academically

Trying to Predict, Explain, Prevent or Control the Behaviour of an Abuser

  • thinking “Mommy has been bad” or “I have been bad” or “Daddy is under stress at work”
  • thinking “I can stop the violence by changing my behaviour” or “I can predict the violence”
  • trying to be the perfect child
  • lying to cover up bad things (e.g., a bad grade) to avoid criticism and worse

Handout for Women

How my Child or Teen Copes (pdf link to off-site page)

Help women use this sheet to identify coping strategies of each of her children (this exercise will not be helpful for babies, toddlers, or most pre-schoolers). Distinguish between those used in response to violence in the past and those still used today. The group can brainstorm specific ways to encourage healthy strategies.

Want to know more?

Alison Cunningham & Linda Baker (2004). What About Me! Seeking to Understand the Child’s View of Violence in the Family. London ON: Centre for Children & Families in the Justice System.

SEXUAL ASSAULT—KNOW THE FACTS

SEXUAL ASSAULT—KNOW THE FACTS

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault is pervasive in Michigan and in the United
States. Recent studies provide compelling evidence to indicate the scope of the problem. The National
Violence Against Women Survey found that 1 of 6 U.S. women and 1 of 33 U.S. men has experienced
an attempted or completed rape as a child and/or an adult. (Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences
of Violence Against Women. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. November 1998.)
Statistics indicate that sexual assault is a significant problem.

In Michigan, 40% of women have experienced some form of sexual violence, ranging from unwanted
touching to forcible rape, since the age of 16. (Survey of Violence in the Lives of Michigan Women.
Michigan Department of Community Health, Community Public Health Agency, 1996.)

Almost 5000 rapes and attempted rapes were reported to Michigan law enforcement agencies in 2000.
(Michigan Uniform Crime Report. Michigan State Police, 2001.)

Sexual assault is a crime committed primarily against girls and women under the age of 25.

The National Violence Against Women Survey found that of the women who reported being raped at some
time in their lives, 21.6% were under the age of 12 years old, 32.4% were 12-17 years old, 29% were 18-24
years old, and 16.6% were over 25 years old when they were first raped. This means 54% of women
victims were under 18 at the time of the first rape and 83% of women victims were under the age of 25.
(Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women. U.S. Department of Justice, Office
of Justice Programs. November 1998.)

Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, not a stranger.

About 6 in 10 rape or sexual assault victims knew their assailant. Approximately 43% of victims are raped
by a friend or acquaintance; 34% by a stranger; 17% by an intimate; and 2% by another relative. (National
Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. 2000.)

More than 70% of rape or sexual assault victims knew their attackers, compared to about half of all violent
crime victims. (Sexual Victimization of College Women. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of
Justice. 2001.)

Men and boys are also victims of sexual assault.
In one study, 5% of boys in grades 9-12 and 3% of boys in grades 5-8 reported that they had been sexually
abused. (The Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls. New York: The
Commonwealth Fund. 1997.)

About three percent of American men—a total of 2.78 million men—have experienced an attempted or
completed rape in their lifetime. (Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women.
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. November 1998.)

Sexual assault victims do not lie about the assaults, in fact sexual assault is a vastly underreported
crime.

Rape or sexual assault is the violent crime least often reported to law enforcement. In 1999, only 28% of
victims reported the assault to police. (Criminal Victimization 2000: Changes 1999-2000 with Trends
1993-2000. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. June 2001.)

The rate of “false reports” or false allegations of rape is 2% to 3%, no different than that for other crimes.
(Schafran, L. H. 1993. Writing and reading about rape: A Primer. St. John’s Law Review, 66, 979-1045.)
Assailants use many forms of coercion, threats and manipulation to rape including alcohol and
drugs. Alcohol, Rohypnol, and other drugs are often used to incapacitate victims.

Men who have committed sexual assault also frequently report getting their female companion drunk as a
way of making it easier to talk or force her into having sex. (Abbey, A., McAuslan, P. & Ross, L. Sexual
Assault Perpetration by College Men: The Role of Alcohol, Misperception of Sexual Intent, and Sexual
Beliefs and Experiences. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 17, 167-195. 1998.)

Although the media has labeled drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB as the date-rape drugs of the present,
these are only two of the many drugs used to incapacitate a victim. Of the 22 substances used in drugfacilitated
rapes, alcohol is the most common. (LeBeau, M., et al., Recommendations for Toxicological
Investigations of Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults, Journal of Forensic Sciences. 1999.)

Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
3893 Okemos Road, Suite B2 Okemos, MI 48864
Phone: (517) 347-7000 Fax: (517) 347-1377 TTY: (517) 381-8470
http://www.mcadsv.org

MICR- Michigan Incident Crime Reporting for Criminal Sexual Conduct, 2007 (Genesee County)

MICRMichigan Incident Crime Reporting 2007 (Genesee County)

First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct involves penetration. According to Michigan law, penetration includes vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse or putting a finger or other object into another person’s anal or genital opening. Emission of semen is not required.

First Degree Sexual Criminal Conduct includes penetration and any one of the following circumstances:
1. Victim is under 13 years of age.
2. Victim is 13, 14, or 15 and assailant is any of the following:

a. Member of the household.
b. Related by blood or affinity.
c. In a position of authority over the victim.
d. A teacher, substitute teacher or an administrator of a school at which the victim is enrolled.

3. Another felony is committed during the assault.
4. Multiple assailants and either of the following:

a. Victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.
b. Force or coercion is used. Force of coercion includes violence, coercing victim to submit by threatening retaliation, overcoming victim through concealment or surprise, or assailant engages in medical treatment or examination of the victim.

5. Assailant is armed with a weapon or any object believed to be a weapon.
6. Assailant causes personal injury and force or coercion is used.

7. Assailant causes personal injury and victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.

8. Victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless and the assailant is any of the following:

a. Related by blood or affinity.
b. In a position of authority over the victim.

CSC 1st is a felony punishable by up to life in prison and additional penalties and monitoring.

Sexual Penetration Penis/Vagina CSC 1st 117 reported
Sexual Penetration Oral/Anal CSC 1st- 62 reported
Sexual Penetration Object CSC 1st 29 reported

Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct involves contact. According to Michigan Law, sexual contact is defined as the intentional touching of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts or the clothing covering those intimate parts for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, done for sexual purpose or in a sexual manner.

Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct includes sexual conduct and any one of the following circumstances:
1. Victim is under 13 years of age.
2. Victim is 13, 14, 15 and assailant is any of the following:

a. Member of the household.
b. Related by blood or affinity.
c. In a position of authority over the victim.
d. A teacher, substitute teacher or an administrator of a school at which the victim is enrolled.

3. Another felony is committed during the assault.
4. Multiple assailants and either of the following:

a. Victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.
b. Force or coercion is used. Force of coercion includes violence, coercing victim to submit by threatening retaliation, overcoming victim through concealment or surprise, or assailant engages in medical treatment or examination of the victim.

5. Assailant is armed with a weapon or any object believed to be a weapon.

6. Assailant causes personal injury and force or coercion is used.

7. Assailant causes personal injury and victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.

8. Victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless and the assailant is any of the following:

a. Related by blood or affinity.
b. In a position of authority over the victim.

CSC 2nd is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Sexual Contact Forcible CSC 2- 118 reported

Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct includes penetration and any of the one following circumstances:

1. Victim is 13, 14, 15.

2. Force or Coercion is used.

3. Victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.

4. Assailant is related by blood or affinity.

5. The victim is at least 16 years of age, unmarried and not emancipated, and a student at a public or nonpublic school, and the assailant is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of that school.

CSC 3 is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Sexual penetration penis/vagina CSC 3rd- 46 reported
Sexual Penetration oralianal CSC 3rd – 19 reported
Sexual Penetration Object CSC 3rd 4 reported

Forth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct includes sexual contact and any one of the following circumstances:

1. Victim is 13, 14, or 15 and assailant is 5 or more years older than victim.

2. Force or coercion is used to accomplish the contact.

3. Assailant knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.

4. Assailant is related by blood or affinity.

5. Assailant is a mental health professional and sexual contact occurs during or within 2 years after the period in which the victim was a client or patient.

6. Victim is a least 16 or 17 years of age and a student at a public or nonpublic school, and the assailant is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of that school.

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 years in prison or a fine of up to $500 or both.

Sexual Contact Forcible CSC 4- 117 reported

Other Sexual Offenses- 111 reported