Do you know a friend or family member who has been sexually abused? Or maybe you have experienced sexual abuse yourself? Are you aware of the psychological and developmental effects it can have on you or someone you may know? Chances are, you don’t—while sexual abuse is common, may people do not speak up, and the problem goes unrecognized.
Motivation: It is important to know how our experiences affect us because if we remain ignorant, we risk never understanding why we are who we are or why we make the choices we make. I know from experience how important it is to be educated on this topic.
Thesis claim: Sexual abuse is a growing issue that often goes unreported because people do not know the effects the experience can have, but it holds significant value.
Preview of main points: First I will provide you with a more concise understanding of sexual abuse. Then I will articulate the effects this kind of exploitation can have. Additionally, I will discuss how to recognize and potentially prevent abuse. Finally, I hope to emphasize the importance of the matter. (Transition: Before we explore the effects of sexual abuse, we must fully understand what it is. )
First let’s distinguish exactly what it is. A. Most people associate sexual abuse with rape, however, sexual abuse is defined as any situation in which a person threatens, forces, or manipulates another person into sexual activity. According to author Elaine Cabinum-Foeller, MD and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, abusers engage in unwanted sexual violence “ own sexual stimulation…” (Source 1: expert testimony) B. Sex offenders can be both male and female. In past generations perpetrators were assumed to be exclusively male. However, experiments like the one done at Stanford University show an increasing emphasis on female sex abusers. (Source 2: expert testimony) (Transition: Now that you have a better understanding, let us examine the devastating effects abuse can have.
Victims of sexual abuse can and have experienced psychological and developmental issues. Pediatric Emergency Medicine reports that an estimated one in four girls and one in six have experienced some form of sexual abuse by the time they are 18 years old. (Source 3: Statistic) Sexual coercion has been linked to suicidal thoughts/attempts, depression, and alcohol use. From experience, I know that being sexually abused is like being the prey, waiting alone in the woods for the hunter to come along.
Unfortunately for some, that hunter happens to live under the same roof, and alone in the woods, alone in my room, I felt like prey every time I heard his footsteps walking down the hall. This certainly led to suicidal thoughts, so I can relate to the findings of suicide attempts reporting among assault victims. (Analogy) C. School Psychology Quarterly reports an estimated 7. 4% of U. S. students have been sexually assaulted, and those who had been abused reported more suicide attempts then those who have not. (Source 4: Statistic).
They are also more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioral difficulties (i. e. aggression), lower academic achievement, etc. Jessica Thurchik, psychologist at Stanford University, says that a study found that college men who reported sexual victimization have higher alcohol consumption than those who don’t. (Source 5: Expert Testimony) (Transition: It is important to realize that there are indicators and measures within our reach that we can take to prevent abuse. )
Now let’s find out the telltale signs and what we can do. Sometimes the presentation is vague and there are rarely physical findings. Sexually abused persons begin to act out (i. e. become more aggressive, detached, or depressed) according to Pediatric Emergency Medicine (Source 3 again: Expert Testimony) When my best friend was sexually abused, she became extremely detached and very depressed (Example: Personal).
According to the findings in School Psychology Quarterly, although scientists are unsure “whether alcohol consumption confers risk for sexual assault prospectively,” they believe alcohol consumption increases risk of abuse. Limiting alcohol consumption is one way to prevent putting yourself in harm’s way. (Source 4 again: Expert Testimony) (Transition: Until now, we’ve discussed what sexual abuse is, and how it affects us, and what we can do, but why does any of this matter? )
Lastly, why this important? All of our experiences contribute to who we are and what we do. I never understood why I felt some of the things I did. If you are someone or know someone who is a victim, it does not mean that you/they will grow up to be an alcoholic, or drop out, or be depressed, that being said, your experience should not be swept under the rug (no matter how small it may seem). (Transition: I hope that you all take heed to my words and understand sexual abuse as a real issue. )
Conclusion Summary: Sexual abuse is any form of unwanted activity whether it is through force, threats, or manipulation. Sexual coercion can lead to depression, suicide, and alcoholism. Presentation is subtle, but prevalent nonetheless. Be aware of your surroundings, how those around you act, and don’t participate in substance abuse. It is importance that we don’t down play the experiences that make us who we are because they will always affect us. Chances are that if you’ve been sexually abused or know someone who has, you’ve been affected in one way or another.
Closure: Any form of sexual abuse is wrong. Whether it is the aftermath of one too many drinks at a party, or a random act of unkindness in the confines of a home (Or anywhere for that matter), it is a growing issue that must be recognized.