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According to RAINN, a nonprofit designed to help victims of sexual assault, 1 in 9 girls under 18 and 1 in 53 boys under 18 will be sexually assaulted before their 17th birthday. Every 9 minutes, Child Protective Services either find evidence or receive a report of child sexual assault.
Survivors of sexual assault (of any age!) are significantly more likely to self-harm, develop substance abuse problems, eating disorders, and sleep disorders. Victims of sexual assault are twice as likely to commit suicide.
If a victim is genetically predisposed to have a mental illness (such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) that mental illness is more likely to show up earlier in life. More often than not, survivors develop PTSD and often seek professional help.
It's not just mental illness - victims are more likely to develop physical health problems as well. Most of the time, these are psychosomatic, though still very much a problem. Examples of this include chronic pain disorder, fibromyalgia, and POTS.
When you know a survivor, the best thing you can do is know what their PTSD (and other mental illness) triggers are. Just listening and being mindful of the situations and surroundings you're putting them in can greatly increase their mental wellbeing.
Another way to help would be to simply be aware of their mental illnesses' side effects and help them accordingly. If they suffer from severe depression, try and find ways to ease that for them. This could be taking a walk with them, helping them with chores, or simply being with them.
Another key thing to do is when you see something, say something.
You can report this to Child Protective Services, which will take action. The CyperTipline (1.800. 843.5678) is another great way to report exploited children.
Both RAINN and Darkness to Light offer volunteering opportunities to work to end CSA.
Other great organizations to volunteer with include: The Trevor Project, The National Suicide Hotline, and The Crisis Textline.
You can make a difference! Get out there and fight for our kids.
writer, scientist, disability advocate
As a survivor, I volunteer with RAINN and other organizations to end CSA and help other survivors. It is very likely you know a survivor in your own life - read this and take action to help them and other victims.
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