We’ve heard the stories about the damage of sexual abuse. And others have shared about our attitudes towards victims of abuse. So it’s easy to imagine that Sex Abuse Week with The Idea Camp blogging series has been a tough one for lots of people involved.
But I want to look at this issue from a different angle… That of the offender (or the would-be offender who hasn’t acted on their impulses yet).
Ministry to victims is extremely important, but will always be a challenge that church faces as long as their are men (and women) out there who are struggling with urges that they feel they can’t talk about.
First, let’s take a look at why I’m thinking about this right now…
Good people don’t just wake up one day and say, “I’m think that I’ll sexually abuse someone today.” We must consider what this behavior escalates from, and often porn addiction is where it starts.
During #ICSEX Porn Week, we saw some about porn usage. It clearly shows a problem of epidemic proportions.
Then this week we’ve seen stories about everything from sexual acts being performed near their ‘target’ all the way up to fathers to their daughters. What seems apparent to me is that there’s an escalation in behavior that likely starts with something much more ‘harmless’, but always seeking more…
Now let’s take a look at a few of the numbers related to the prevalence of sexual abuse (Source:):
- 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18.
- 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18.
- 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the internet.
These numbers indicate that the problem is pretty widespread. It means that in my son’s class at school, there are likely 3-4 classmates that he interacts with every day that are (or will soon be) victims. What’s even more disturbing is the secrecy that shrouds it…
- Evidence that a child has been sexually abused is not always obvious, and many children do not report that they have been abused.
- Over 30% of victims never disclose the experience to ANYONE.
- Young victims may not recognize their victimization as sexual abuse.
- Almost 80% initially deny abuse or are tentative in disclosing. Of those who do disclose, approximately 75% disclose accidentally. Additionally, of those who do disclose, more than 20% eventually recant even though the abuse occurred.
And while many are often afraid that a stranger will do something to our children, the evidence shows that it’s usually much closer to home…
- 30-40% of victims are abused by a family member.
- Another 50% are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust.
- Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children whom they know.
- Therefore, only 10% are abused by strangers.
Considering how widespread (1) the number of victims are, (2) the close proximity of offenders, and (3) the epidemic levels of porn addiction, it’s not a stretch to come to the following conclusion.
We ALL know someone who is secretly struggling with these urges and temptations.
There’s probably someone in your family, at your job, and/or sitting next to you in church that is trying to fighting these temptations. Odds are that some of you reading this right now are dealing with these thoughts and desires.
And I’m sure that every one of these people know exactly how wrong it is. But shame and embarrassment prevents them from ever telling another person about what they’re dealing with.
If we’re going to have any chance at ‘fixing’ this problem of sex abuse, then we not only need to help heal the victims of these acts, but we also need to provide a safe place for people to share the secret things that they are fighting inside.
I know that this may sound strange, but I believe we need to find a way to have the same kind of compassion for potential offenders that we do for victims.
What do you think? How can we (as the church) effectively deal with the root of this problem of sexual abuse?