Why does sexual abuse continue to happen so often in our society, so much that approximately 1/5 to 1/4 of all women experience rape or attempted rape? Well, that statistic might be a tiny bit misleading, so let’s break down what the CDC has to say: approx 1 in 8 lesbian women (13.1%), nearly half of bisexual women (46.1%) and 1 in 6 heterosexual women (17.4) in the US have been raped in their lifetime, this translates to an estimated 214,000 lesbian women, 1.5 million bisexual women and 19 million heterosexual women. Approx 36.5% of bisexual women and 11.4% of heterosexual women reported experiencing completed forced penetration.
This works out to approximately 18.17% of women (about 1 in 5) as having experienced rape or attempted rape (weighted for the fact there are more heterosexuals). This is a real problem, and it won’t be fixed with blind paranoia.
In this video psychologist Dr Nina Burrowes explains one of the reasons why sex offenders are able to get away with their crimes: they don’t see what they are doing as wrong. The behavior is rationalized and normalized, and the negative social effects ignored or characterized as unimportant.
The predator who wants to get away with their crimes does not commit them in public: they choose victims they can easily isolate and who are unlikely to be believed if they do go to authorities. They choose victims they can manipulate, and use charm to convince both themselves and their victims that they are “alright.”
To throw in a few statistics:
– 69% of reported teen sexual assaulted occurred in the residence of the victim or offender
– in 93% of cases involved children, the victim knew the offender (which can mean acquaintances (53%), in 47% of the time, the offender was in the family or extended family)
– Most cases are not reported, it is estimated that only 30% of offenses are reported.
The social problems leading to the continued prevalence of these offenses, and also of abusive relationships, lay primarily in a lack of an understanding of respect. Current social values are not aligned with rational values: we give environmental and social issues less weight than economic values.
To lay out the problem in a single anecdote: billionaire Samuel Curtis Johnson III sexually abused his stepdaughter on approximately 21 occasions, and before the court was informed that his “productive life” should grant him a highly reduced sentence… the judge was literally saying that the suffering and abuse of the victim was less important than the economic power Johnson wielded. Until we recognize what abuse is, and put our foot down to stopping it and the social reinforcers that easily allow many “non-violent” sexual abusers to continue their crimes unscathed.