Sexual abuse is a traumatizing experience. The emotional and psychological damage can last a lifetime. While statistics show that minor children and women are most vulnerable to sexual abuse, anyone can be a victim during their lifetime. If you or a loved one is enduring sexual abuse, here’s what you need to know to get protection.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse happens when one person forces sexual behavior on another. The sexual abuser or molester will often threaten, use violence, or intimidate as a way to attack their victim. There are many situations in which a person can be vulnerable to sexual abuse. It can happen anywhere — at school, home, daycare, work, a friend’s home, or park. Often, the abuser is someone that the victim knows or may even trust, such as the clergy or foster caretakers.
Sexual Abuse in Foster Homes
Children in foster homes are extremely vulnerable to sexual abuse, and the abuser may not always be the foster parent. Victims can be sexually abused by the foster parent’s children, other relatives, friends, or spouses. Even though state workers screen foster parents and may follow up on care, low budgets for services and understaffing often cause the welfare of foster children to fall through the cracks.
Sexual Abuse by Clergy
Sexual abuse committed by clergy members is, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence. A victim’s trust in clergy members can be the gateway for abuse to begin. When the trust is broken, victims are often left confused as well as fearful of reporting the incident.
How to Report Sexual Abuse
Many victims may feel too embarrassed and ashamed of the abuse that they are forced to endure and fail to speak out. However, it’s critical to alert the authorities to stop the abuse and to protect the abuser from harming other victims.