Silence of the damaged: More support needed for victims of sexual abuse
Trigger warning: This column contains references to sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse has life altering affects and is harmful to everyone. Men, women and children who have been sexually violated are drastically distorted emotionally, psychologically and symbolically. Sexual abuse should not be happening in our society, and no one deserves to be violated — there is no excuse. In order to help deal with this epidemic, there should be more affordable and effective trauma counseling in elementary through high schools, universities and all work environments. The statute of limitations for sexual abuse should also be removed from the law. If there is not a statute of limitations for murder, then there should not be one for sexual abuse either.
According to a 2011 New York Times article, one in every five women in the U.S. claim to be victims of sexual assault. One in seven men reported severe violence from an intimate partner, and one in 71 men have been raped. A large percentage of victims have not reported their abuse due to fear. There is also a proportion of sexual maltreatment that occurs when mental incapability and a mental or physical handicap is present. Children are prominent targets for sexual predators, because of their cerebral immaturity and innocence. Sexual abuse is usually overlooked in society, and the damage it is doing to people today is irreversible. The interpretation of sexual maltreatment is viewed differently in various parts of the globe. Some societies take sexual abuse more seriously than others.
Susanne Babbel published a report in which substance abuse was cited as a factor in at least 70 percent of all reported cases of child maltreatment in 2005. This report also concluded that adults with substance abuse problems are 2.7 times more likely to perpetuate abusive behavior toward their own children. The abuse rate is rising, and the suffering from this malevolence is leaking into the next generation. There are many long-term consequences that are paired with sexual abuse like narcissism, generational cruelty, psychological damage, unwanted pregnancy and promiscuity, to name the few. Premature sexual experiences are more likely to be harmful. As a matter of fact, sexual interaction between adults and young people, including children, occurs regularly, including rape. Studies have shown that sexual abuse in men and women can affect their psychological mindset and their sexual history. According to an article by Catherine McCall, the recorded effects that women experience after sexual abuse are low sexual desire, chronic sexual pain, compulsive sexual behavior, high-risk sexual activity and sexually transmitted infections. Men who experience sexual abuse are subjected to erectile dysfunction, issues climaxing and decreased sexual appetite, to name a few.
It angers me to read the consequences these men, women and children have to face because of others people’s malicious actions. The statute of limitations does not apply to murder, so it shouldn’t in the case of sexual abuse either. Victims, especially minors, do not have the mental capacity to process the abuse until years later. Over this span of time, the abusers are not only “getting away with murder,” but there’s a huge possibility they are violating others. As a victim of sexual abuse, I think it’s unacceptable for the legal system to put a time limit to come forward and accuse the perpetrator, because the trauma sexual abuse victims face often keeps them silent. Victims feel neither safe nor comfortable divulging that harrowing information. I also believe people should have a more understanding attitude and provide a support system for the abused, because this abuse, if not treated, will cause permanent damage. There is no excuse for sexual maltreatment at all — it ruins lives, and it has to stop. But we can’t change the world unless we change ourselves.
Je’da Pinckney is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in psychology with minors in women’s and gender studies and sexuality studies.