Q: Who is sexually abused?
A: Just as there is no typical profile of someone who perpetrates sexual abuse, there is no typical profile of someone who is sexually abused. People who are sexually victimized cross all socioeconomic, educational, gender, age, and cultural lines.
However, data show that some groups are at higher risk for sexual victimization. For example, the majority of sexual assault victims are under age 30, and 80-90% of victims are female. Individuals at higher risk for sexual victimization may include children, homeless teens and adults, people with disabilities, the elderly, members of LGBTQ communities, and Native Americans and First Peoples (RAINN, Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics; SexAssault.ca, Sexual Assault Statistics in Canada).
There is never a situation when it is the victim’s fault. No one’s clothing, behavior, or beliefs mean they are asking to be sexually abused. No one deserves to be sexually abused. Everyone deserves to live a life free from abuse or the threat of abuse.
Q: Are most victims attacked by someone they know?
A: Yes. Most people know their abusers. Most people who sexually abuse others do so from a position of trust or power within families, among circles of friends, or through school or work (Snyder, 2000). Stranger-on-stranger sexual abuse is extremely rare.
Q: How many people are sexually abused?
A: One in six girls/women and one-third of boys/men will be raped or will be the victim of attempted rape at some point in their lives (RAINN, Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics). When you add in other forms of unwanted sexual interactions, such as groping, the number of people who are abused is much higher.
Q: What are the impacts of sexual abuse on the victims?
A: Each individual’s response to sexual abuse is unique. The short-term and long-term impacts can be influenced by factors such as the nature of the abuse, the victim’s age, family and social supports, and a range of other variables. Being a victim of sexual violence can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, increased use of drugs, interpersonal problems at school and work, sleep disturbances, and a lack of ability to trust others. It is important to note that most people who are victimized do not go on to abuse others. While some perpetrators of sexual abuse were themselves victims of abuse, most were not.