- The United Nations estimates between 1 and 4 million people are trafficked every year globally. Trafficking of persons is the 3rd most profitable form of organized crime in the world after drugs and weapons. The global slave trade generates a $95 billion revenue annually.
- There are no national statistics on child abuse in Greece, mainly because the authorities are not obliged to report cases. http://www.humanium.org/en/greece/
- One out of four women is sexually molested by the time she is eighteen. Five thousand women died within a seventeen-month period preceding the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (in which 2,948 people perished) — a result of domestic violence. Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir, Sue William Silverman (2010-01-25), University of Georgia Press, Kindle Edition
- According to a John Jay College of Criminal Justice study commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, eleven thousand allegations of sexual abuse were made between 1950 and 2002. Yet 30 percent weren’t even investigated because the alleged perpetrator had died, leaving thousands of victims — the majority of them male — without recourse. Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir, Sue William Silverman (2010-01-25), University of Georgia Press, Kindle Edition
- Facts and statistics from Australia
Facts and statistics from Bravehearts, concerning child sexual assault http://www.earlyyears.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/155207/Johnston_Hetty.pdf
This paper, which was submitted by Bravehearts to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault in 2013, also includes facts and statistics http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/getattachment/5114e6a5-e8d9-4302-b18f-ee91e65d5734/63-Bravehearts
- Human Rights Violation http://endviolence.un.org/situation.shtml
Violence against women and girls is not confined to any particular political or economic system, but it is prevalent in every society in the world. It cuts across boundaries of wealth, race and culture. It is an expression of historically and culturally specific values and standards which are today still executed through many social and political institutions that foster women’s subservience and discrimination against women and girls.
International and regional legal instruments have clarified the obligations of States to prevent, eradicate and punish violence against women and girls. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) requires that countries party to the Convention take all appropriate steps to end violence. However, the continued prevalence of violence against women and girls demonstrates that this global pandemic of alarming proportions is yet to be tackled with all the necessary political commitment, action and resources.
Countries have made some progress and initiatives developed to address and prevent violence against women and girls have increased throughout the world in recent years. However, gaps still remain in too many countries.
Fast Facts from UNITE http://endviolence.un.org/situation.shtml
• Up to 7 in 10 women around the world experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime
• 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.
• As many as 1 in 4 women experience physical or sexual violence during pregnancy.
• Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18.
• Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is something of an invisible epidemic. It is certainly far more widespread than most people realize. For example, a prime cause of PTSD is childhood sexual abuse. About 16% of American women (about 40 million) are sexually abused (including rape, attempted rape, or other form of molestation) before they reach their 18th birthday.
Douglas Bremner, M.D (faculty member of the Departments of Diagnostic Radiology and Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Yale Psychiatric Institute, and National Center for PTSD-VA Connecticut Healthcare System) The Invisible Epidemic: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Memory and the Brain http://www.thedoctorwillseeyounow.com/content/stress/art1964.html
Written by Tonya Alexandri
Trauma has only surfaced into public consciousness over the past century always in affiliation with a political movement (Herman, 1997). For instance, combat neurosis or shell shock was only studied after the First World War and reached its peak after the Vietnam War and it coincided with the anti-war movement in the USA (Herman, 1997). The more recent trauma to come into public awareness is sexual abuse and its political context was the feminist movement in the 70s (Herman, 1997).
However, despite the fact that at both at an individual and at a societal level we have preferred to be oblivious to this reality, statistics and many research findings suggest that one in four children are likely to suffer from sexual abuse before the age of 18. An earlier study conducted by sociologist, Diana Russell, indicated that one in three girls is sexually abused in childhood (1986, cited in Bloom, 1994; and in Herman, 1997). Research in the 1970s in the USA found that sexual assaults against women and children were endemic in society (Herman, 1997). In her book the Right to Innocence: Healing the Trauma of Sexual Abuse, Beverly Engel (1989) wrote that according to the figures of the 1985 Los Angeles Times survey, nearly 38 million adults were sexually abused as children, and that 85% of abuse occurs in the home. Levine and Frederick (1997) mention that between 75 and 100 million Americans have experienced childhood sexual and physical abuse. Steinberg and Schnall (2003) report that in the USA close to a million children were victims of confirmed child abuse and neglect until 1997. Interestingly, posttraumatic stress disorder or symptoms, depression and other commonalities have been found among sexual abuse and rape survivors, battered women, political prisoners, combat veterans and survivors of concentration camps and PTSD symptoms are estimated to affect, at the minimum, 8 to 9% of the American population (Woolfe, 1989; Greene, 1994, cited in Matsakis, 1996). In addition, Matsakis reports that 84% of battered women in shelters and 35 to 92% of raped women suffer from PTSD symptoms and writes ‘so one can imagine what happens to survivors of ongoing childhood abuse’. Finally, Perry mentions that millions of children across the world are exposed to pervasive and chronic traumatic experiences (e.g., course-of conduct maltreatment such as incest; war) or timelimited (e.g., natural disaster, drive-by shooting) and that only in the USA conservative estimates of the number of children exposed to a traumatic event in one year exceed 4 million (Perry, 1994a, cited in Perry et al., 1996). In the same article it is mentioned that ‘physical or sexual abuse, living in the fallout zone of domestic or community violence, surviving a serious car accident — all have an impact on the child’s development’ (Taylor, Zuckerman, Harik, and Groves, 1992; Pynoos, Frederick, Nader, Arroyo, Steinberg, Eth, Nunez, and Fairbanks, 1987; Osofsky, 1995) and that children are at great risk for profound emotional, behavioural, physiological, cognitive and social problems (Perry, 1994a, cited in Perry et al., 1996). Also, depending on the severity, frequency, nature, and pattern of traumatic events, at least half of all children exposed to traumatic experiences may be expected to develop significant neuropsychiatric symptomatology (Schwarz and Perry, 1994, cited in Perry et al., 1996).
Although statistics may seem overwhelming, they also hide the horror and the devastating effects of child abuse and the fact that behind each statistic hides a terrified child or an adult victim or survivor. In I Never Told Anyone, an anthology of writings from women survivors of sexual abuse, Bass writes that ‘statistics for all the horror they imply, can be so vast that we shield ourselves from the individual lives they represent’ because ‘it is not easy to open oneself to the knowledge that millions of children are raped’ (in Bass and Thornton, 1991). Moreover, not only do we often fail to make the link between numbers and human suffering, but statistics are also very easy to forget. However, numbers are both overwhelming and real and abuse affects children and individuals of all ages and spans ethnic and religious groups and social classes. Brookes writes that sexual abuse crosses gender and cultural and socio-economic barriers, which indicates that the causes of sexual abuse are dynamic and complex. Stone (2004) claims that ‘if sexual abuse were considered a disease, experts would have labelled it an epidemic long ago’. Finally, perpetrators have belonged to diverse religions and ideologies all over the world across time and ‘sexual abuse and violence against children and women is part of an ancient and pervasive worldwide tradition’ (in Bass and Thornton, 1991). Similarly, in her book The Best Kept Secret, Florence Rush, a feminist author who focused on sexual abuse documented abuse through time, claims that childhood sexual abuse ‘stems from the traditions and customs that are written in history, religion, law, and today’s powerful and influential media’ (cited in Bass and Thornton, 1991).
Therefore, refraining from denial and its illusionary sense of safety, is in the end an act of courage and I think it is not difficult to understand that voicing the problem and acknowledging it, is the first step towards dealing with it and decreasing its incidence. Steinberg and Schnall (2003) write that ‘decency demands that we speak out for all the mute survivors’ because ‘our disconnection from the truth like theirs is waiting to be healed’ and it becomes obvious that ‘by tolerating a system that protects abusers and denies or downsizes the mistreatment of children…..we collude in this atrocity by our silence and skepticism’. ‘Confronting the momentum of an old and deeply embodied attitude that allows men the privilege of ownership and desecration’ (Bass, 1991) is necessary, for as long as we deny the fact that child abuse occurs and as long as we keep silent the chances are that a lot of its crippling results will be passed down from adult to child for generations.
- Bass, E. and Thornton, L. (1991) I Never Told Anyone, HarperPerennial, Canada
- Brookes, S. (1997) Art Therapy with Sexual Abuse Survivors, Charles C. Thomas- Publisher, Ltd, the USA
- Engel, B. (1989) The Right to Innocence: Healing the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Ballantine Books, The Random House Publishing Group, New York
- Herman, J. (1997) Trauma and Recovery: the Aftermath of Violence-from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, Basic Books, New York
- Levine, P. and Frederick, A. (1997) Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, North Atlantic Books, the USA
- Matsakis, A. (1996) I Can’t Get Over It: A Handbook for Trauma Survivors, New Harbinger Publications, Inc, the USA
- Childhood Trauma, the Neurobiology of Adaptation, and Use-dependent Development of the Brain: How States become Traits by Perry, et al. (1996).
Article published in Infant Mental Health Journal, 16(4), 271-291
- Steinberg, M. and Schnall, M. (2003) The Stranger In The Mirror: Dissociation-The Hidden Epidemic, Quill, New York
- Stone, R. (2004) No Secrets, No Lies; How Black Families Can Heal from Sexual Abuse, Harlem Moon, the USA