Physical and Sexual Abuse

The Numbers

1 in 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime

1:6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime

94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of PTSD during the two weeks following the rape

94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of PTSD during the two weeks following the rape

Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault

Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault

38% of victims of sexual violence experience work or school problems

38% of victims of sexual violence experience work or school problems

More than 1 in 10 high school students have already experienced some form of physical aggression from a dating partner

More than 1:10 high school students have already experienced some form of physical aggression from a dating partner

66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are ages 12-17

66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are ages 12-17

What is Abuse?

Physical abuse is the non-accidental physical trauma or injury inflicted by one individual on another. The abuser is usually a family member/caregiver or someone known to the victim. Injuries are often the result of, but not limited to, choking, punching, kicking, biting, burning, beating, or use of an object to inflict harm. Physical abuse often, but not always results in bruises, abrasions, burns, broken bones, and internal hemorrhages.

Sexual abuse is any coerced sexualized behavior or undesired exposure to sexualized behavior between two or more individuals. The individuals involved may or may not know each other. Both children and adults can be sexually abused.

Abuse Signs and Symptoms

Physical Abuse

While physical injury may be the most obvious danger, emotional and psychological consequences of abuse are also severe. In its most severe form, physical abuse is likely to cause great bodily harm or even death. Possible signs that a person may have been physically abused include:

  • Dressing in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors)
  • Having frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents”
  • Being depressed, anxious, or suicidal
  • Frequently missing work, school, or social occasions, without explanation
  • Seeming afraid or anxious to please their partner
  • Going along with everything their partner says and does.
  • Checking in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing
  • Receiving frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner
  • Talking about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness
  • Having very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident
  • Showing major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn)
Sexual Abuse

Possible signs that a person has been sexually abused include:

  • Any sexual behavior (including exposure to pornography) between an adult and a child
  • Any sexualized activity that includes coercion (force, threats, bribes, manipulation, drugs, etc.)
  • Sexual activity when one party is impaired (drugs/alcohol, intellectually disabled, physically disabled, etc.)
  • Exposure to sexual activity (live or in media)
  • Sexual behavior between children with an age discrepancy of 3+ years
  • Coerced sexual behavior between children
  • Rape is the perpetration of an act of sexual intercourse when:
    • Will is overcome by force or fear (from threats, use of weapons, or use of drugs)
    • Mental impairment renders the victim incapable of rational judgment
    • The victim is below the legal age established for consent
Possible impact of sexual abuse:
  • Possible impact of sexual abuse – depression, sleep disturbances, nightmares, frequent urinary infections, isolation from family and friends, or withdrawal from usual activities
  • Tendency to become either obsessive or apathetic about hygiene
  • Anxiety, passivity or overly “pleasing” behavior, low self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, and promiscuous activity
  • Adults experience the ramification of sexual abuse through anger, rebellion, self harm, fear, inappropriate sexual behavior, or difficulty in developing close relationships
  • Many people who have been sexually abused fall into obsessive compulsive behavior patterns such as excessive bathing, teeth-brushing, or hand-washing due to feeling perpetually dirty
  • Many victims of sexual abuse will turn to food as a source of comfort which often develops into an eating disorder: anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating
  • According to the U.S.Department of Justice, 54% of all rapes are of women under age 18
  • 1 in 3 young women is sexually abused before age 18 (RAINN 2011)
  • Most sexual abuse against children is perpetrated by a family member (e.g., father, stepfather, aunt, uncle, sibling, cousin) or family intimate (e.g., live-in lover or friend of the parent)

Stories of Transformation

Hannah, 2011 Mercy Multiplied graduate

Hannah’s Story

Michele, 2004 Mercy Multiplied graduate

Michele’s Story

Rebecca, 2001 Mercy Multiplied graduate

Rebecca’s Story

Need Help?

If you or someone you know is a victim of physical or sexual abuse, Mercy Multiplied can help. Our program is completely free to the girls we serve. Call (615) 831-6987 for more details. If you are serious about getting help and ready to apply now, please begin the application.