• Joan Dominguez

Broaden Your Awareness: Sexual Abuse Myths vs. Facts

One of the main obstacles within our community that hinder prevention efforts is false beliefs about the frequency and the impact of sexual abuse. Believing inaccurate information about sexual abuse can increase the vulnerability of becoming a victim because people believe they are more protected and that it would never happen to them or someone they love.

In order to battle misinformation and help create awareness about the reality of sexual abuse, we’ve addressed some common myths about sexual abuse and facts that disprove them.

Myth #1: There is no way to end sexual abuse, it will always happen.

Fact #1: 95% of childhood sexual abuse is preventable through education. Without education about sexual abuse prevention and actionable change, it is estimated that approximately 400,000 children will be born who will be sexually abused in a year. If we become educated about how sexual abuse occurs, behavioral patterns of perpetrators, and learn effective ways to communicate to our children about this issue, then we will be able to strengthen our vulnerabilities and protect future generations from experiencing the darkness of sexual abuse.

Myth #2: Sexual abuse is motivated by sexual desires.

Fact #2: It is not only about sexual gratification, a perpetrator strategically targets their victim and takes advantage of their vulnerabilities to gain a sense of power and control. This can be seen when analyzing the grooming process of sexual abuse. The grooming process is a long-term strategic manipulation of trust by someone the victim knows. With each step of this process, the abuser will slowly push boundaries to gain more power and control until they can coerce the victim and perpetrate sexual abuse. Even after the abuse has taken place, abusers will continue to control the relationship through the exploitation of their victim’s vulnerabilities for their benefit.

Myth #3: If a victim doesn’t report sexual abuse right away or speaks calmly about it, then it didn’t really affect them.

Fact #3: The reality is that approximately less than 40% of victims ever disclose the abuse. Experiencing sexual abuse can change a survivor’s entire life and burden them with long-term effects such as depression and anxiety. A survivor’s mental health and romantic life can be constantly impacted by experiencing triggers of sexual abuse, and healing may become a lifelong journey. It’s also important to remember that every survivor processes the abuse in their own specific way. There is no right way to heal, and sexual abuse is just as severe regardless of the survivor’s reaction to it.

Now that you know more about how common sexual abuse is and how it can impact a survivor’s life, we encourage you to share this information with someone you know!

If our community comes together through education and inspiration, then we can all collaborate towards creating a safer future free of sexual abuse.

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