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Tami C Ryan

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Sexual Abuse - Important Information
by Tami C Ryan   
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, April 28, 2007
Posted: Friday, September 05, 2003

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In fond memory of Bob Matthews, Children's Psychologist


During a recent interview, Bob Matthews, Clinical Psychologist at the local Victim Assistance Center, shared both personal insights and important information.


Bob defines sexual abuse this way:  “Any type of exploitation of children of a sexual nature – it runs the gamut from comments about bodies to intercourse.  If it is obtrusive to the person who is on the receiving end, it is abuse.  Abuse usually starts long before the first touch.”


He shared the following national statistics:


One out of every four females is sexually abused before the age of sixteen.


One out of every six males is sexually abused before the age of eighteen.


One in three women will be raped in their lifetime.


Bob works with children between the ages of two and fourteen.  His average client is eight years old.  The female-to-male client ratio is 60% females and 40% males.


According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, women with a childhood history of sexual abuse are 4.7 times more likely to be subsequently raped.  Girls who were raped are about three times more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders and more than four times more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol abuse as adults.  Women who are raped face a 50-95% chance of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.


In more than 90% of all cases of sexual abuse, the abuser is someone the victim knows well and trusts.  Most often, it is a member of the immediate family or a close relative.  Many times, the abuser is an acquaintance – a friend of the family or a neighbor.  It is rarely the “Stranger Danger” that we warn our children about.  In 2001, approximately 81% of child victims of sexual abuse were assaulted by a parent, relative, or someone who lived in their house.[1]


The statistics are staggering and unnerving, to say the least of it.  That means many who read this could commiserate; the familiarity of this piece will hit home – perhaps, uncomfortably.


There is no profile of an abuser.  There’s no rhyme or reason; it transcends gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic boundaries; and solid homes/dysfunctional homes.


Of course, all children react differently, but the most common effects are that children become less trustful of adults and experience fears and anxieties, lack confidence, and suffer from low self-esteem.  Sometimes, the reverse can also happen: children become too trusting of adults.


There are signs to watch for:  very young children who are affected tend to act out, touching each other; they may ask mature-content-type questions about sexual acts; they may exhibit unusual kissing behavior, as in adult-type kissing; they may express distress at being alone with a certain person (“I don’t want to stay home with Daddy today.”).  In a preteen child, behavior patterns may change, such as a drop in school grades; a sudden disinterest in a previously-loved sport; depression; dressing in layers (false protection); or changes in eating habits, such as overeating or disinterest in eating.


If you are suspicious of sexual abuse, help a child to “tell” by giving the child a safe haven.  Let him or her know it’s safe to tell by being direct and encouraging.  Always insure the child’s safety.  Be sure to let the child know that you’ll protect them – and then do it.  Go to a person of responsibility (the child’s mother, aunt, care provider) in a non-threatening way and discuss your suspicions with them.  If you don’t believe the circumstances are taken seriously, take further action.  (Resources are listed at end of this article.)  30% of the abused will abuse if it is not addressed.


Often, children are not believed because each time the child repeats the telling, the story “changes”.  It’s important to recognize that this is because young children remember in segments.  Each time a child’s story is told, the child may remember another piece.  This is especially true if the child has been experiencing long-term, reoccurring abuse.


When a child does tell, believe him or her.  It is extremely rare for the telling to be fictitious, especially in a young child.  Young children don’t have the exposure and/or life experience to fabricate something of this grandiosity and relay minute details to an adult, especially one of authority – police, for example.  Additionally, it’s very important to tell the child out loud that you believe him or her.  This gesture reaffirms the child’s decision to tell, offers validation, and is an important first step in the healing process.


Early intervention is essential.  Early intervention affords early healing and averts problematic adolescent years.  Counseling and/or therapy is not for everyone, but dialogue on some level is.  Finally, healing is not only possible, but it is also essential.


Helpful reading material:


The Courage to Heal - Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
ISBN # 0-06-095066-8  -  HarperPerennial

Allies in Healing: When the Person You Love Was Sexually Abused as a Child - Laura Davis
ISBN # 0-06-096883-4  -  HarperPerennial

Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse - Carolyn Ainscough & Kay Toon
ISBN # 1-55561-225-3  -  Fisher Books

If there’s reason to believe a child is being abused, please take action.  Please make the call and make a difference in a child’s life.


[1] Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape



Copyright © 2003 Tami C Ryan
All Rights Reserved.  No reprints without express written permission from the author.


National Sexual Assault Hotline

1.800.656.HOPE • Confidential • 24/7





Web Site: Daddy's Little Girl

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Reviewed by Denise Contreras
Sounds like we have a lot in common Sexual abuse distroys I lived it from under five years old tell I stopped it at 17. I know the hell the prison I lived within myself because I did not know how to express what happened to me. I was 30 years old when I got help now 12 years later I am able to help spread the message that we can get help and we are survivors were not victims. This information you have is very important. Thanks for sharing this I know how hard it is to share things like this but this is what helps us grow and become survivors.
Hugs Angela
Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G
Hi Tami~
Thank you, This touched ME DEEPLY and It is WEll needed!Thank you and I am honored to be your friend~ Thank you for caring so deeply, I had a HARD time trying to read this through, it home too many times for me! Glad to say I am a Happy - and More well informed Survivor, and not out to help others! *BE WEll-Stay Strong! Warm HuGs! Love,*She*oxo
Reviewed by m j hollingshead
thought provoking article
Reviewed by Richard Christopher Suarez
I have told you how incredibly lucky I am to become your friend!
Well, I say it magnified! I relate too well to all of this Excellent
Article's content. I love that you said ;'healing is not only possible it's essential! Tami, I will read more still about your blessed call and the knowledge you;ve gained for the greater good!
I am happy beyond words that you provide this info., and I am sure there is more ..AND WE ALL NEED TO READ IT AND REALLY TAKE IT IN!
Oustanding Tami!
peace and real healthy joyfilled life to you!
Your friend; Rich Criso
Reviewed by Phyllis Jean Green
E x c e l l e n t, e x c e l l e n t, e x c e l l e n t.
With love, admiration, and the utmost respect, 'Pea' <3

PS: Tam', I wrote a long, very specific review that the cyber monster
whisked away because. . .apparently I hit the wrong button. Blast.
Hope to 'message you' soon.

T h a n k y o u.
Reviewed by Pier Tyler
Thanks for sharing this much and still needed article. And you are right, you are no longer a victim but a survivor. Tami you have helped so many with this subject matter. You have helped me...
Reviewed by Roxanne Smolen
This was both difficult and wonderful to read. I wish there had been an advocate for me and my sister.
Reviewed by Debra Conklin
Well written and excellent article. Thank you making others aware of this, far too common, crime.
Reviewed by Scott Zachary
I applaud your efforts to make people aware of this saddest of sad subjects. There is no greater cause.

Reviewed by Handsum Hart
This is an excellent article Tami, I read it slowly. I hope your healing journey is going well.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
excellent and informative article! bravo! :D (((HUGS)))
Reviewed by Kate Clifford
Thank you for the sharing and helping with the awarenss. Very well written, informative article.
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