We are now five seminars deep into our 13-week series. Last week’s seminar brought by Dr. Chris Christmas focused on sex addiction. Chris, a local specialist in this area, did a great job of introducing a subject that has an incredible amount of shame attached to it. He brought it further into the light by offering us a framework that integrates today’s psychology with what the Bible says about the issue. This week Sharon Hersh will cover the category of sexual abuse. When we strip away the sensationalism surrounding this topic we see that it also comes shrouded in shame and secrecy. Because of this, it’s fair to wonder just how many people really are affected by sexual abuse. I wondered the same thing myself when we discussed whether it was a topic that really spoke to a large number of people on a personal, experiential level. So I did some research.
What I found was that 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused during their lifetime. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. That averages out to someone being sexually assaulted every two minutes. Those are some shocking numbers.
Even as numerically astounding as those numbers are, I still needed more context to help me wrap my mind around the enormity of the issue. I thought of another social issue that also has children at the center but gets much more attention – childhood obesity.
What I found was that between the ages of 6 and 19 a person was actually more likely to be sexually abused or assaulted than they were to be obese. And childhood obesity affects a smaller percentage of children than does sexual abuse or assault.
So what we have is an issue that directly affects an enormous about of people but does not get the same attention as other equally pervasive issues. And based on my own story, sexual abuse and assault affects as many - or more - people indirectly than it does directly.
Think how many of us have been raised by parents who survived sexual trauma. How many of us grew up with siblings and friends who experienced sexual trauma? How many of us survivors are now raising children, and who would give our lives before we let anything of sort happen to them?
I’m looking forward to Sharon leading us into another important conversation. One that I think we can all agree affects so many of us directly and indirectly, and has been both sensationalized and muted in our culture. It’s time to un-mute this topic.
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Written by guest blogger Jack West.