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Somerset Phoenix Project

Working alongside professionals and supporting children, young people and families affected by sexual abuse.

A specialist service supporting the development of professionals in Somerset. We are here to reduce the negative impact of child sexual abuse (CSA) on the lives of children and families living in Somerset

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Myth busting

Myth busting


Myths About Sexual Abuse 

MYTH: Children are usually abused by strangers. 

FACT: Over 90% of children are abused by someone they know i.e. family members, relatives and/or close friends. Indeed, the people likely to abuse children are those who have the most opportunity and access to them. 

MYTH: Sexual abuse is a rare occurrence. 

FACT: 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused. Over 47,000 sexual offences against children were recorded in the UK in 2016. 

MYTH: Sexual abuse only happens in lower income and/or isolated families. 

FACT: Sexual abuse crosses all socio-economic, race and class barriers. It happens in both rural and urban environments. 

MYTH: Men of certain races are more likely to commit sexual abuse. 

FACT: There is no typical abuser. Abusers can be men and women and can come from every economic, ethnic, racial, age and social group. 2

MYTH: Only young girls are the victims of sexual abuse. 

FACT: Girls and boys are equally vulnerable to sexual abuse. 

MYTH: People who sexually abused are mentally ill or monsters. 

FACT: Studies have indicated that as few as 5% of men and 7.5% of women (taken from a clinical study of 40 women: Faller KC: Women who sexually abuse children. Violence and Victims 1987; 2:263-276 ) are psychotic at the time of their crimes. 

MYTH: Children lie about sexual abuse. 

FACT: Children rarely have the sexual knowledge to allow them to talk about sexual incidents unless they have experienced it. False accusations represent only 4 per cent of all allegations (Trocme and Bala’s, 2005). Of this 4%, many of the false allegations are connected with arrangements for children after divorce or separation, with the accusation more often than not made by the non-resident parent rather than the child (Trocme and Bala, 2005; Bala and Schuman, 2000). 

MYTH: Sexual abuse is a once or twice occurrence. 

FACT: Sexual abuse typically goes on for about 3 ½ years prior to discovery. 

MYTH: It is better not to talk about sexual abuse; the child will forget. 

FACT: The child will not forget as the trauma can be re-triggered via the brain’s reaction to the senses. 

MYTH: Sexual abuse is always perpetrated by adults. 

FACT: About 1/3 of all sexual abuse that occurs in the UK is perpetrated by other children or young people. 

MYTH: children who ‘take back’ (recantation) the disclosure of abuse must have been lying in the first place. 

FACT: Most children who recant are telling the truth when they originally disclose. They may recant for a number of reasons; mixed feelings about their abuser and about what has happened as a result of the disclosure; if sworn to secrecy by the abuser they may be trying to protect the secret by taking it back; denial; pressure from other people due to the disruption caused or fear of the legal process.

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