Sharing – Dispelling the Myths: Female-Perpetrated Sexual Abuse

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You should read the whole article, Dr. Jeglic does a good job describing the issue, what we do know about female perpetrators and what we don’t know. Mostly we don’t know because of this:

“When most people envision a sex offender, they do not picture a woman.  While the majority of sex offenders are indeed male, a recent meta-analysis (a study that combines the findings of smaller studies) examining female-perpetrated sexual abuse across twelve countries found that victims reported that in 12% of cases of sexual abuse, their abusers were women.  This is in contrast to official reports wherein only a small proportion of reported cases (2.2%) of sexual abuse were women.   Further, it is suspected that the rate of female-perpetrated sexual abuse may be even higher as many victims who were abused by women may not recognize that what was done to them was in fact sexual abuse, as a significant portion of female sex offenders mask their abuse in their caregiving roles.  Further, it was found that about 40% of men who report sexual abuse were abused by women (as opposed to 4% of women), and they may not report their abuse because of shame, or fear either not being believed, or their manliness being questioned.”

This resonates with me, not because I was abused by a woman, but because I was in my 20’s before I realized that I had been abused, because what happened to me, at the hands of an older child, didn’t look like the sexual abuse I saw in movies and TV, where a strange man kidnaps and rapes you.

That limited definition of sexual abuse that we teach kids, means that many of them don’t realize they are being abused, and when we are talking about boys in their early teens, I doubt many of them would even consider a female as a potential abuser.

But we know it happens, and we know it’s damaging. We just don’t really understand how much.

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