Guest post by Menagerie.
One in five women and one in twenty men self report being childhood victims of sexual abuse. Sixty to eighty percent of the abusers are known to the child or their family. As many as half that are family members. Up to twenty percent of the abusers are females. Predators come from all walks of life, but studies overwhelmingly show they are likely to be someone you, the parents or protectors of the children, trust. We tend to think of sexual predators as a man in a trench coat who jumps out of a dark van and snatches a child away. In real life, the predator may approach a child online, they may be a teacher, a relative, a priest, pastor, youth worker, a volunteer at a church or youth facility, or a friend. They may be the parent or care giver of a friend of your child. They are likely to inspire trust, be charismatic or good with people, and probably are not at all going to be the person you expect to be a sexual predator. They can be patient, often grooming a victim over a long period of time.
The abuse may come in the form of a violent attack by a stranger, or it may be a seduction by a beloved family member. It might not even involve touch. It could come in the form of inappropriate comments, indecent exposure, or cyber stalking.
There are many variables in the who, what, when, and why when it comes to victims of childhood sexual predators, but there is one rock solid constant. All the victims will be left with devastating long term effects from the abuse. Childhood sexual abuse is associated with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, guilt and shame, eating disorders, repression or denial, sexual promiscuity, and relationship problems, in addition to physical injuries from the abuse. Physical injuries can include tearing and bleeding, sexually transmitted diseases, and even internal damage. Research has shown neurological changes related to childhood sexual abuse, changes which can alter brain development.