Sexual abuse most commonly occurs by an individual known by the victim, parent or other family member (intrafamilial). Rarely is the abuser a stranger. Children who become brave enough to overcome the threats and coercion to remain silent may decide to recant accusations of abuse due to fear of retaliation by the perpetrator or other family members. They may also recant out of fear of losing contact with the perpetrator who is commonly a family member or close friend tied to the family by various social means. (The double bind of "I love you"/"I hate you.")
Incest victims are mostly unreported so are not included in the statistic for reported abuse. Of reported cases:
33% of sexual abuse victims are under age 6
33% are 6-12 years old
33% are 12-18 years old.
In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.
- Of these, 75% were girls.
- Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.
Data from 2002 National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) indicates that approximately 4.6 million children were reported to child protective service agencies as purported victims of child maltreatment. Of that number over 88,000 children were documented as sexually abused.
At the community level, epidemiology studies of adults have found that 15 to 33% of females and 13 to 16% of males were sexually abused in childhood.
Different studies use different methodology for their statistics. The statistic found to be most on target in the community of therapists who treat survivors of sexual abuse, is 1 in 4 women are victims of sexual assault. Even for adults, rape is more often someone known to the victim.
The entirety of incest victims will always be unknown because of the secrecy factor. A statistic cited in this blog's second post is:
Some estimates show 20 million Americans have been victimized by parent incest as children. (Jeffrey Turner, 1996). As cited at the website for The National Center for Victims of Crime.
...it is estimated there is one pedophile for every square mile in our country, everywhere from big cities to small rural communities.
Given the enormity of the prevalence of incest survivors and abuse statistics for those under age 12, it is more probable that DID exists in closer to 1 out of every 10-20 incest survivors. In populations such as those seeking counseling through YWCAs and other survivor centers, the statistics are prone to be higher for a therapist to have someone present with DID.
While many therapists claim they have never seen a case of DID, it is more likely the therapist is not trained to identify symptoms and therefore "does not see". In addition, because of lack of training, even if someone did see signs of dissociation, the treating individual might be inclined to treat the person as if dissociation were not present. For those therapists who recommend the patient see someone who does treat dissociation, there are insufficient numbers of therapists in many areas of the country to treat the number of survivors.
Kudos to schools open to education to identify dissociation in children, which is relatively easy to spot in the classroom. Again, however, the societal problem is lack of qualified therapists to treat the child. Part of this unwillingness of therapists to be trained to assess and treat dissociation are the efforts of the media and groups such as the FMSF who have targeted experts in the field for lawsuits and shattered their lives and careers.
On the positive side, excellent training is available through organizations such as ISSTD. Sometimes therapists who first encounter DID are willing to learn as they go. A therapist willing to learn on behalf of the client is how many enter the field of dissociation.
For survivors unsure about whether they might be dissociative, Marlene Steinberg's book, Stranger in the Mirror, has an excellent section of self evaluations. It's a good safe start, although admittedly disarming if you score in the range of likely dissociation. Remember that symptoms may not mean dissociation or DID for you. Symptoms may go with another issue. Don't make any immediate assumptions about yourself until you are able to speak with a qualified therapist.