Sex abuse is more than a serious criminal and public health problem, as it leaves an unbearable strain on the survivors. It is also far more common than one might think. A 2010 survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five women and one in 71 men have been raped at some point. Of all crimes, sexual assaults are the least reported, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Only 28% were reported in 2012, compared to 56% in 2003. Victims might be reluctant to divulge the crime for various reasons, like shame, embarrassment, victim-blaming, fear of retribution or the belief that law enforcement will not be supportive.
Child sex abuse includes the acts listed above, but also the sexual exploitation of a child by using or attempting to use them for sexual gratification or in sexually explicit displays such as child pornography. In Oregon, minors ages 18 and under cannot legally consent to sexual contact, therefore child sex abuse includes sexual contact between an adult and a minor.
Sex abuse also causes many unseen, psychological injuries, such as PTSD, anxiety, stress and depression. Survivors sometimes turn to substance abuse or suffer from eating and sleep disorders and might experience flashbacks. Others might resort to self-harm or suicide.
The statute and requirements differ when the case is against a public body. See the General Questions section, which provides more information on this.
- Talk to your child about sexuality in age-appropriate terms. Talking freely about sexuality can help reduce shame or embarrassment, and it teaches kids that it is okay to talk about this and it doesn’t need to be a secret. Let your child know if someone does something to them that makes them uncomfortable, that they won’t be in trouble if they tell you. Talks of this kind should be routine rather than one big conversation.
- Teach your child the names of body parts so they have the vocabulary to ask questions and express concerns about being touched inappropriately. Tell them that some body parts are “private,” and should be touched or looked at unless by a doctor or care provider.
- Teach your child to say “no” to inappropriate touching or anything that makes them uncomfortable.
- Ask your child about the people with whom they go to school or spend time. If they’re involved in sports, go to their games or practice and meet the other parents and coaches. If they’re involved in daycare or after-school activities, ask them what they did during their day.
- Many TV shows or video games show sexually explicit content or sexual violence. Use this content to start a conversation about sexuality
- If your child comes to you with concerns or questions, listen. It can take time or several conversations for your child to come forward if they have been abused.
- Oregon law requires that a hospital providing care to a woman who is a sexual assault victim must offer her unbiased, medically and factually accurate written and oral information regarding emergency contraception, as well as the option to receive emergency contraception at the hospital. The hospital, however, may charge the victim for this service.
- Oregon law requires some individuals or entities to help victims of sexual assault. For example, the victim’s employer might be required to allow the victim to take time off from work to attend a criminal proceeding for their case. The employer might also have to allow time off if the person is a victim of domestic violence or stalking. The victim’s parent might be able to take time off to receive help from law enforcement and/or an attorney, medical treatment, counseling, victims’ services or to move to a different residence or make one’s home safer.
- The state may not deny a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking unemployment benefits if the victim has no reasonable alternative other than leaving work to protect the victim or minor child.
- A victim of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking may terminate a rental agreement with 14 days of notice if they do so within 90 days of the crime. Alternatively, the victim may require their landlord to change the locks on the victim’s residence.
- The Sexual Assault Victims’ Emergency Medical Response Fund has been providing Oregon victims with medical assessments since 2003. This fund offers medical care and medications, if needed, to every sexual assault victim in the state, regardless of their ability to pay. The fund was modified in 2007 to cover every victim, even if they choose to not report the crime to law enforcement or at the time of the incident. These assessments also cover children ages 18 and under, including instances in which abuse has been alleged.
- A victim shall be issued a victim identification number and provided with a registry identification number of the registered sex offender who committed the crime against him or her.