Silence of the sexually abused

Behind closed doors

Silence of the sexually abused

In most cases, friends or  family members commit  the crime.

The collaborative study from the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke, explored the consequences of not reporting abuse. “The number of victims who never reveal their secret or who wait many years to do so is very high,” co-author Mireille Cyr, a psychology professor of the Université de Montréal, said. “This is regrettable because the longer they wait to reveal the abuse, the harder and more enduring the consequences will be,” Cyr stated.

The research team surveyed 800 Quebec men and women and found 25 percent of respondents never divulged being sexually abused as children. The scientists also found a sharp contrast between genders, 16 percent of women remain quiet about abuse, while 34 percent of men never share their secret.

The psychological distress of victims includes anxiety, depression, troubles concentrating and irritability. While certain victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, some relive the abuse psychologically while others have dulled emotions or become hyper-vigilant. Unfortunately, in most cases, friends or family members commit serious abuse such as rape. This is true in 85 percent of cases for female victims and 89 percent for male victims. Isabelle Daigneault, of the Université de Montréal Department of Psychology, conducted a separate study correlating the likelihood of young victims to become adult victims of sexual or physical abuse. Her sample examined 9,170 women and 7,823 men throughout Canada.

Her conclusions are startling, female survivors of childhood sexual abuse are three to four times likely to be victims of physical or sexual abuse as adults. “It’s the first time that we combine data on sexual abuse during childhood and eventual relationship problems,” Daigneault said. Male survivors of childhood sexual abuse are three times more likely to be victims of physical abuse as men.

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