The cynic in me finds the following quote absolutely hilarious: “Mark Foley wants you to know he is a gay man.”
I laugh, not because former Rep. Foley is gay, but because in light of all that has happened in the last week with regard to heinous sexual assaults on young girls, followed by murders, one of our elected officals who is caught having internet sex with pages and grooming others for future who-knows-what offers in his defense? that, “I don’t even like girls!” Give me a fucking break!
Let’s see if we can connect some dots here:
- molested by clergy, ages 13-15
- has internet sex with teenaged pages
- sends inappropriate emails to others, arguably grooming them for the future
- suicide note alleges he was molested
- sexually molested all six girls before killing one and killing himself
Charles Carl Roberts IV:
- molested children 20 years ago
- dreaming of doing it again
- brought KY Jelly lubricant with him to the school where he kills 5 young girls
You would really have to live under a rock this week to deny the horrid, disgusting fact that sexual assault happens every single day, in every single town, in every single corner of the globe. You would really have to be moron to deny that children are the most vulnerable and therefore the most likely to be sexually assaulted.
FACT: Most sexual assaults go unreported. (RAINN)
I am glad that these stories in the news bring publicity to this issue, but I work with survivors every single day who because of shame, fear, mistreatment by authorities, disbelief of loved ones and a hundred other reasons choose not to report their victimization to the police. If they don’t report, they aren’t counted. I am a survivor. I am not included in the statistics. Not any of my assaults.
FACT: Among female rape victims, 61% are under 18.
American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Adolescence. “Sexual Assault and the Adolescent.” Pediatrics. 94 (5) 1994.
FACT: Most victims are sexually assaulted by someone they know.
MYTH: “We live in a beautiful, safe neighborhood. None of these children could be victims of sexual abuse, right?”
It is highly likely that you know a child who has been or is being abused.
- Experts estimate that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthdays. This means that in any classroom or neighborhood full of children, there are children who are silently bearing the burden of sexual abuse.
- 1 in 5 children are sexually solicited while on the Internet.
- Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under.
- The median age for reported sexual abuse is 9 years old.
- Approximately 20% of the victims of sexual abuse are under age eight.
- 50% of all victims of forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling are under age twelve.
- Most child victims never report the abuse.
- Sexually abused children who keep it a secret or who “tell” and are not believed are at greater risk than the general population for psychological, emotional, social, and physical problems, often lasting into adulthood.
It is also likely that you know an abuser. The greatest risk to children doesn’t come from strangers but from friends and family.
- 30-40% of children are abused by family members.
- As many as 60% are abused by people the family trusts- abusers frequently try to form a trusting relationship with parents.
- Nearly 40% are abused by older or larger children.
- People who abuse children look and act just like every one else. In fact, they often go out of their way to appear trustworthy to gain access to children.
- Those who sexually abuse children are drawn to settings where they can gain easy access to children, such as sports leagues, faith centers, clubs, and schools.
“It can’t happen in my family. I could tell if someone I know is an abuser.”
Yet in more than 90% of sexual abuse cases the child and the child’s family know and trust the abuser.
Consequences to children and to our society begin immediately. Child sexual abuse is a direct source of a number of problems facing us.
- Consequences to children and to our society begin immediately. Child sexual abuse is a direct source of a number of problems facing us.
- 70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use.
- One study showed that among male survivors, 50% have suicidal thoughts and more than 20% attempt suicide.
- Young girls who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders as adolescents.
- More than 60% of teen first pregnancies are preceded by experiences of molestation, rape or attempted rape. The average age of the offenders is 27 years old.
- Approximately 40% of sex offenders report sexual abuse as children.
- Both males and females who have been sexually abused are more likely to engage in prostitution.
- Approximately 70% of sexual offenders of children have between 1 and 9 victims; 20-25% have 10 to 40 victims.
- Serial child molesters may have as many as 400 victims in their lifetimes.
Now, I challenge you to compare the facts with the statements in the media regarding these 3 offenders. In my opinion the community has a role in this. We have a resposibility to protect kids because, so often, this is where the abuse starts. But we have a larger responsibilty.
We have the responsibility to take our heads out of the sand and look at what is happening around us. We have to allow people to tell their stories. All people. Even men and boys. When we silence them by turning their victimization into an issue of whether they are gay or not, we drive their pain underground where it festers, and worse.
I am so angry about this Foley mess for so many reasons, but nothing burns me more than him appealing to his sexuality as somehow a defense for his actions. It clouds the waters, I think intentionally, and it attempts to somehow put pedophilia, rape, and sexual assault in the same category as sexuality. One’s sexuality is not a crime. These other behaviors are.
Guess what Foley? Perpetrators are gay and straight and anywhere in between. That has no bearing on who they assault. But somehow, I think you already know that.
My heart aches for the families of the girls who lost their lives in the past week:
And for the unnamed victims whose lives have forever been changed by the hand of evil.
We need to wake up!