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The Sexual Abuse of Girls

Zero Tolerance, Scotland

Annually, 29% of known female rape victims in America are younger than 11 years of age; however, at least 61% of rapes are never reported to the police.

In America, at least 20% of adult women were sexually abused as children.

Little girls are sexually abused at three times the rate of little boys in America.

Most child victims know and trust their abusers.

Sexual abuse is most likely to cause long-term harm if it is perpetrated by a father or father figure; 60% of child molesters are the father or the father-figure.

In America, incest constitutes one-third to one-half of the sexual abuse of girls; however, incest victims are far less likely to report than non-incest victims.

The statistics concerning the sexual abuse of girls are horrifying, yet the statistics don’t even begin to tell the whole story. Girls are sexually abused at much higher rates than boys by family members, acquaintances, and strangers alike. There doesn’t appear to be any difference what cultural heritage, economic or religious group the girl child comes from, the rates of abuse are staggering.

The theory of “male entitlement” is believed to be particularly harmful for girls. Some men, including some fathers, feel entitled to use female children for their sexual enjoyment. The myth that some men use their daughters as replacements for indifferent wives has not been substantiated by research. Some men feel entitled to sexually use and abuse children simply because they choose to.

Girls who are sexually abused tend to internalize their trauma as opposed to boys who tend to “act out” theirs. Girls often times become withdrawn, depressed, develop eating disorders, self-mutilate, and engage in risky sexualized behaviors even at very young ages. Girl victims will frequently begin viewing themselves as a value to others only as sexual objects, basing their self-worth solely upon being an object that will be abused by others. Their self-esteem can be totally destroyed because of the selfish and abusive choices of an adult.

Girls commonly close-off their feelings of terror, pain and rage, intuitively understanding that their energy is needed to survive. “Feeling” their true emotions can be a pain they may not be able to bear. When a child begins to view feeling as a lead-in to abuse, violation, humiliation and pain, the child will selectively block feelings or simply stop feeling all together.

If a female child perceives that she was not believed when she disclosed to adults, she may become very angry. Please remember that as a society we tend to be more comfortable with anger directed at females than at males so resist the self-defense mechanism to strike out at her. Her anger is healthy and justified, she was the victim, and she has a legitimate expectation to be protected by adults. Any feelings of disgust and non-violent anger must be directed at the proper person, the perpetrator, not at the victim. We teach our children to please adults not to defy them: her abuser was an adult.

The sad, but simple truth is that we are not talking about sex, but the sexual abuse of a child: if I hit you over the head with a frying pan you probably wouldn’t call it cooking. An adult male who abuses little girls is not engaging in heterosexual sexual behavior; he is sexually abusing little girls. The same is true when the victim is a little boy. The issues of anger, hostility, entitlement, and power are the same: the effects are equally harmful. The question, then, is not one of homosexuality or heterosexuality, but of the sexual abuse and its results on the child.

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