Sex trafficking abuse victims account for over 40% of the US population

Posted by Zotta Rendevouz

What is sexual abuse?

Sex trafficking is one of the more blatant and horrific forms of sexual abuse. Often, children who are abducted and forced into prostitution are first sexually abused by their pimps. Dan Allender, Ph.D., is a speaker, counselor, and author who himself experienced sexual violation. In his book, The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victimsof Childhood Sexual Abuse, Allender defines sexual abuse of children and describes the various levels of sexual exploitation:

* Child sexual abuse occurs whenever an adult or more powerful child uses the child for sexual pleasure.
o The abuse itself is a violation of power and trust, as 91% of the time, sexual offenses are perpetrated by someone the child knows.
* Very severe sexual abuse is any physical contact with penetration. This can be vaginal, oral, or anal.
* Severe sexual abuse occurs with any touch of unclothed primary or secondary sexual body parts
* Least severe sexual abuse inludes any touch of non-sexual body parts and kissing

Allender validates that psychological and emotional damage occurs to the victim at each of these levels, even if the child tries to rationalize that "it could have been worse, so therefore this action is not abuse". Facing the reality of victimization and all of its consequences is a courageous act which not all people are ready to handle. The amount of psychic damage may differ for each individual, but the intensity will be greatest for those violators who were in the highest and closest roles of trust and privilege in the child's world--i.e. parents and family members, youth leaders, pastors, teachers, friends.

Other types of sexual exploitation do not include physical touch, but can be just as traumatic for a youngster.

* Visual sexual exploitation is any form of visual presentation of sex acts which involve the child, whether live or media-based, which are designed to arouse. This includes sexually explicit movies, pornography, exhibitionism, or public exposure.
* Verbal sexual abuse encompasses referring to a child as a sexual body part or talking about sexual terminology or activities to the child or in his hearing.
* Emotional sexual abuse happens when a parent uses the child as a spousal surrogate, talking on an imtimate level with the child, even disclosing aspects of the parent's sexual encounters. The young person receives a level of intimacy not proffered to the actual spouse. Even if the parent-child relationship is argumentative and verbally passionate, the abused child may be the only one of the household getting that level of intensity, and there is an unspoken rule that only that child will specifically have that kind of interaction.

On a paper and pencil test, fully one-fourth of the females and one-sixth of the males will self-disclose incidences of sexual abuse according to these standards. When research interviews are used as in Diana E. H. Russell's book, The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women, 38% of the respondents recount severe or very severe sexual encounters by the time they reached 18. All of these acts are violations of state laws across the nation. If the numbers include the least severe category and exhibitionism, 52% of females have been sexually abused. (This study took a very strict definition of sexual abuse. If all forms were counted, it is likely that 80-90% of women have been abused sexually.)

For males, a paper and pencil test reveals that 14% identify some sort of sexual abuse. There has not been any study about men that is similar in scope and breadth to Russell's work on women.

A conservative estimate indicates that at least one out of every two women and one out of every three males will experience sexual abuse in the United States. As long as there is not a public outcry against this travesty, and the depth of the problem is not openly discussed, sexual exploitation of children and adults will continue to escalate. Unimaginable damage is being foisted upon the victims of these crimes, which leaves life-long scars and serious impediments to growth into mature adulthood.

Sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, pedophilia and other forms of sexual violation are grave issues that need to be dealt with in wisdom and compassion and justice.