Abuse from your husband can stem from many things. The first step in reporting spousal abuse is deciding to. You have to realize that enough is enough. Document everything. Document issues of abuse, when they occur.Contact your local authorities.
Child sexual abuse or child molestation is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.) to a child with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to intimidate or groom the child, physical sexual contact with a child, or using a child to produce child pornography.
The effects of child sexual abuse can include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, propensity to further victimization in adulthood, and physical injury to the child, among other problems. Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest, and can result in more serious and long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.
The global prevalence of child sexual abuse has been estimated at 19.7% for females and 7.9% for males, according to a 2009 study published in Clinical Psychology Review that examined 65 studies from 22 countries. Using the available data, the highest prevalence rate of child sexual abuse geographically was found in Africa (34.4%), primarily because of high rates in South Africa; Europe showed the lowest prevalence rate (9.2%); America and Asia had prevalence rates between 10.1% and 23.9%. In the past, other research has concluded similarly that in North America, for example, approximately 15% to 25% of women and 5% to 15% of men were sexually abused when they were children. Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as 'friends' of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. Most child sexual abuse is committed by men; studies show that women commit 14% to 40% of offenses reported against boys and 6% of offenses reported against girls. Some sources report that most offenders who sexually abuse prepubescent children are pedophiles, but some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia.
Under the law, "child sexual abuse" is an umbrella term describing criminal and civil offenses in which an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor or exploits a minor for the purpose of sexual gratification. The American Psychiatric Association states that "children cannot consent to sexual activity with adults", and condemns any such action by an adult: "An adult who engages in sexual activity with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act which never can be considered normal or socially acceptable behavior."
Child sexual abuse can result in both short-term and long-term harm, including psychopathology in later life. Indicators and effects include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, poor self-esteem, somatization, sleep disturbances, and dissociative and anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder. While children may exhibit regressive behaviours such as a return to thumb-sucking or bed-wetting, the strongest indicator of sexual abuse is sexual acting out and inappropriate sexual knowledge and interest. Victims may withdraw from school and social activities and exhibit various learning and behavioural problems including cruelty to animals, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Teenage pregnancy and risky sexual behaviors may appear in adolescence. Child sexual abuse victims report almost four times as many incidences of self-inflicted harm.
A well documented long term negative effect is repeated or additional victimization in adolescence and adulthood. A causal relationship has been found between childhood sexual abuse and various adult psychopathologies, including crime and suicide, in addition to alcoholism and drug abuse. Males who were sexually abused as children more frequently appear in the criminal justice system than in a clinical mental health setting. A study comparing middle-aged women who were abused as children with non-abused counterparts found significantly higher health care costs for the former. Intergenerational effects have been noted, with the children of victims of child sexual abuse exhibiting more conduct problems, peer problems, and emotional problems than their peers.
A specific characteristic pattern of symptoms has not been identified and there are several hypotheses about the causality of these associations.
Studies have found that 51% to 79% of sexually abused children exhibit psychological symptoms. The risk of harm is greater if the abuser is a relative, if the abuse involves intercourse or attempted intercourse, or if threats or force are used. The level of harm may also be affected by various factors such as penetration, duration and frequency of abuse, and use of force. The social stigma of child sexual abuse may compound the psychological harm to children, and adverse outcomes are less likely for abused children who have supportive family environments.
Child abuse, including sexual abuse, especially chronic abuse starting at early ages, has been found to be related to the development of high levels of dissociative symptoms, which includes amnesia for abuse memories. When severe sexual abuse (penetration, several perpetrators, lasting more than one year) had occurred, dissociative symptoms were even more prominent.
Besides dissociative identity disorder (DID) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), child sexual abuse survivors may present borderline personality disorder (BPD) and eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa.
Because child sexual abuse often occurs alongside other possibly confounding variables, such as poor family environment and physical abuse, some scholars argue it is important to control for those variables in studies which measure the effects of sexual abuse. In a 1998 review of related literature, Martin and Fleming state "The hypothesis advanced in this paper is that, in most cases, the fundamental damage inflicted by child sexual abuse is due to the child's developing capacities for trust, intimacy, agency and sexuality, and that many of the mental health problems of adult life associated with histories of child sexual abuse are second-order effects." Other studies have found an independent association of child sexual abuse with adverse psychological outcomes.
Kendler et al. (2000) found that most of the relationship between severe forms of child sexual abuse and adult psychopathology in their sample could not be explained by family discord, because the effect size of this association decreased only slightly after they controlled for possible confounding variables. Their examination of a small sample of CSA-discordant twins also supported a causal link between child sexual abuse and adult psychopathology; the CSA-exposed subjects had a consistently higher risk for psychopathologic disorders than their CSA non-exposed twins.
A 1998 meta-analysis by Bruce Rind et al. generated controversy by suggesting that child sexual abuse does not always cause pervasive harm, that some college students reported such encounters as positive experiences and that the extent of psychological damage depends on whether or not the child described the encounter as "consensual." The study was criticized for flawed methodology and conclusions. The US Congress condemned the study for its conclusions and for providing material used by pedophile organizations to justify their activities.
Depending on the age and size of the child, and the degree of force used, child sexual abuse may cause internal lacerations and bleeding. In severe cases, damage to internal organs may occur, which, in some cases, may cause death. Herman-Giddens et al. found six certain and six probable cases of death due to child sexual abuse in North Carolina between 1985 and 1994. The victims ranged in age from 2 months to 10 years. Causes of death included trauma to the genitalia or rectum and sexual mutilation.
Child sexual abuse may cause infections and sexually transmitted diseases. Depending on the age of the child, due to a lack of sufficient vaginal fluid, chances of infections are higher. Vaginitis has also been reported.
Research has shown that traumatic stress, including stress caused by sexual abuse, causes notable changes in brain functioning and development. Various studies have suggested that severe child sexual abuse may have a deleterious effect on brain development. Ito et al. (1998) found "reversed hemispheric asymmetry and greater left hemisphere coherence in abused subjects;" Teicher et al. (1993) found that an increased likelihood of "ictal temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms" in abused subjects; Anderson et al. (2002) recorded abnormal transverse relaxation time in the cerebellar vermis of adults sexually abused in childhood; Teicher et al. (1993) found that child sexual abuse was associated with a reduced corpus callosum area; various studies have found an association of reduced volume of the left hippocampus with child sexual abuse; and Ito et al. (1993) found increased electrophysiological abnormalities in sexually abused children.
Some studies indicate that sexual or physical abuse in children can lead to the overexcitation of an undeveloped limbic system. Teicher et al. (1993) used the "Limbic System Checklist-33" to measure ictal temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms in 253 adults. Reports of child sexual abuse were associated with a 49% increase to LSCL-33 scores, 11% higher than the associated increase of self-reported physical abuse. Reports of both physical and sexual abuse were associated with a 113% increase. Male and female victims were similarly affected.
Navalta et al. (2006) found that the self-reported math Scholastic Aptitude Test scores of their sample of women with a history of repeated child sexual abuse were significantly lower than the self-reported math SAT scores of their non-abused sample. Because the abused subjects verbal SAT scores were high, they hypothesized that the low math SAT scores could "stem from a defect in hemispheric integration." They also found a strong association between short term memory impairments for all categories tested (verbal, visual, and global) and the duration of the abuse.
Incest between a child or adolescent and a related adult has been identified as the most widespread form of child sexual abuse with a huge capacity for damage to a child. One researcher stated that more than 70% of abusers are immediate family members or someone very close to the family. Another researcher stated that about 30% of all perpetrators of sexual abuse are related to their victim, 60% of the perpetrators are family acquaintances, like a neighbor, babysitter or friend and 10% of the perpetrators in child sexual abuse cases are strangers. A child sexual abuse offense where the perpetrator is related to the child, either by blood or marriage, is a form of incest described as intrafamilial child sexual abuse.
The most-often reported form of incest is father–daughter and stepfather–daughter incest, with most of the remaining reports consisting of mother/stepmother–daughter/son incest. Father–son incest is reported less often; however it is not known if the actual prevalence is less or it is under-reported by a greater margin. Similarly, some argue that sibling incest may be as common, or more common, than other types of incest: Goldman and Goldman reported that 57% of incest involved siblings; Finkelhor reported that over 90% of nuclear family incest involved siblings; while Cawson et al. show that sibling incest was reported twice as often as incest perpetrated by fathers/stepfathers.
Prevalence of parental child sexual abuse is difficult to assess due to secrecy and privacy; some estimates state that 20 million Americans have been victimized by parental incest as children.
Child sexual abuse includes a variety of sexual offenses, including:
Children who received supportive responses following disclosure had less traumatic symptoms and were abused for a shorter period of time than children who did not receive support. In general, studies have found that children need support and stress-reducing resources after disclosure of sexual abuse. Negative social reactions to disclosure have been found to be harmful to the survivor’s well being. One study reported that children who received a bad reaction from the first person they told, especially if the person was a close family member, had worse scores as adults on general trauma symptoms, post traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and dissociation. Another study found that in most cases when children did disclose abuse, the person they talked to did not respond effectively, blamed or rejected the child, and took little or no action to stop the abuse. Non-validating and otherwise non-supportive responses to disclosure by the child's primary attachment figure may indicate a relational disturbance predating the sexual abuse that may have been a risk factor for the abuse, and which can remain a risk factor for its psychological consequences.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides guidelines for what to say to the victim and what to do following the disclosure. Asa Don Brown has indicated: "A minimization of the trauma and its effects is commonly injected into the picture by parental caregivers to shelter and calm the child. It has been commonly assumed that focusing on children’s issues too long will negatively impact their recovery. Therefore, the parental caregiver teaches the child to mask his or her issues."
The initial approach to treating a person who has been a victim of sexual abuse is dependant upon several important factors:
The goal of treatment is not only to treat current mental health issues, but to prevent future ones.
Children often present for treatment in one of several circumstances, including criminal investigations, custody battles, problematic behaviors, and referrals from child welfare agencies.
The three major modalities for therapy with children and teenagers are family therapy, group therapy, and individual therapy. Which course is used depends on a variety of factors that must be assessed on a case by case basis. For instance, treatment of young children generally requires strong parental involvement, and can benefit from family therapy. Adolescents tend to be more independent, and can benefit from individual or group therapy. The modality also shifts during the course of treatment, for example group therapy is rarely used in the initial stages, as the subject matter is very personal and/or embarrassing.
Major factors that affect both the pathology and response to treatment include the type and severity of the sexual act, its frequency, the age at which it occurred, and the child’s family of origin. Roland C. Summit, a medical doctor had defined the different stages the victims of child sexual abuse go through, Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome. He suggested that children who are victims of sexual abuse depict a range of symptoms that include secrecy, helplessness, entrapment, accommodation, delayed and conflicted disclosure and recantation.
Adults with a history of sexual abuse often present for treatment with a secondary mental health issue, which can include substance abuse, eating disorders, personality disorders, depression, and conflict in romantic or interpersonal relationships.
Generally the approach is to focus on the present problem, rather than the abuse itself. Treatment is highly varied and depends on the person’s specific issues. For instance, a person with a history of sexual abuse suffering from severe depression would be treated for depression. However, there is often an emphasis on cognitive restructuring due to the deep-seated nature of the trauma. Some newer techniques such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have been shown to be effective.
Sexual abuse is associated with many sub-clinical behavioral issues as well, including re-victimization in the teenage years, a bipolar-like switching between sexual compulsion and shut-down, and distorted thinking on the subject of sexual abuse (for instance, that it is common and happens to everyone). When first presenting for treatment, the patient can be fully aware of their abuse as an event, but their appraisal of it is often distorted, such as believing that the event was unremarkable (a form of isolation). Frequently, victims do not make the connection between their abuse and their present pathology.
Offenders are more likely to be relatives or acquaintances of their victim than strangers. A 2006–2007 Idaho study of 430 cases found that 82% of juvenile sex offenders were known to the victims (acquaintances 46% or relatives 36%).
More offenders are male than female, though the percentage varies between studies. The percentage of incidents of sexual abuse by female perpetrators that come to the attention of the legal system is usually reported to be between 1% and 4%. Studies of sexual misconduct in US schools with female offenders have shown mixed results with rates between 4% to 43% of female offenders. Maletzky (1993) found that, of his sample of 4,402 convicted pedophilic offenders, 0.4% were female. Another study of a non-clinical population found that, among those in the their sample that had been molested, as much as a third were molested by women.
In U.S. schools, educators who offend range in age from "21 to 75 years old, with an average age of 28" with teachers, coaches, substitute teachers, bus drivers and teacher's aides (in that order) totaling 69% of the offenders.
Early research in the 1970s and 1980s began to classify offenders based on their motivations and traits. Groth and Birnbaum (1978) categorized child sexual offenders into two groups, "fixated" and "regressed." Fixated were described as having a primary attraction to children, whereas regressed had largely maintained relationships with other adults, and were even married. This study also showed that adult sexual orientation was not related to the sex of the victim targeted, e.g. men who molested boys often had adult relationships with women.
Later work (Holmes and Holmes, 2002) expanded on the types of offenders and their psychological profiles. They are divided thus:
Causal factors of child sex offenders are not known conclusively. The experience of sexual abuse as a child was previously thought to be a strong risk factor, but research does not show a causal relationship, as the vast majority of sexually abused children do not grow up to be adult offenders, nor do the majority of adult offenders report childhood sexual abuse. The US Government Accountability Office concluded, "the existence of a cycle of sexual abuse was not established." Before 1996, there was greater belief in the theory of a "cycle of violence," because most of the research done was retrospective—abusers were asked if they had experienced past abuse. Even the majority of studies found that most adult sex offenders said they had not been sexually abused during childhood, but studies varied in terms of their estimates of the percentage of such offenders who had been abused, from 0 to 79 percent. More recent prospective longitudinal research—studying children with documented cases of sexual abuse over time to determine what percentage become adult offenders—has demonstrated that the cycle of violence theory is not an adequate explanation for why people molest children.
Offenses may be facilitated by cognitive distortions of the offender, such as minimization of the abuse, victim blaming, and excuses.
The term "pedophilia" refers to persistent feelings of attraction in an adult or older adolescent toward prepubescent children, whether the attraction is acted upon or not. A person with this attraction is called a "pedophile".
In law enforcement, the term "pedophile" is generally used to describe those accused or convicted of child sexual abuse under sociolegal definitions of child (including both prepubescent children and adolescents younger than the local age of consent); however, not all child sexual offenders are pedophiles and not all pedophiles engage in sexual abuse of children. Law enforcement and legal professionals have begun to use the term predatory pedophile, a phrase coined by children's attorney Andrew Vachss, to refer specifically to pedophiles who engage in sexual activity with minors. The term emphasizes that child sexual abuse consists of conduct chosen by the perpetrator.
Recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population. Estimated rates among child sex offenders vary. One study found that 42% of offenders re-offended (either a sex crime, violent crime, or both) after they were released. Risk for re-offense was highest in the first 6 years after release, but continued to be significant even 10–31 years later, with 23% offending during this time. A study done in California in 1965 found an 18.2% recidivism rate for offenders targeting the opposite sex and a 34.5% recidivism rate for same-sex offenders after 5 years.
When a prepubescent child is sexually abused by one or more other children or adolescent youths, and no adult is directly involved, it is defined as child-on-child sexual abuse. The definition includes any sexual activity between children that occurs without consent, without equality, or due to coercion, whether the offender uses physical force, threats, trickery or emotional manipulation to compel cooperation. When sexual abuse is perpetrated by one sibling upon another, it is known as "intersibling abuse", a form of incest.
Unlike research on adult offenders, a strong causal relationship has been established between child and adolescent offenders and these offenders' own prior victimization, by either adults or other children.
A ten-country school-based study in southern Africa in 2007 found 19.6% of female students and 21.1% of male students aged 11–16 years reported they had experienced forced or coerced sex. Rates among 16-year-olds were 28.8% in females and 25.4% in males. Comparing the same schools in eight countries between 2003 and 2007, age-standardised on the 2007 Botswana male sample, there was no significant decrease between 2003 and 2007 among females in any country and inconsistent changes among males.
The prevalence of child sexual abuse in Africa is compounded by the virgin cleansing myth that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or AIDS. The myth is prevalent in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Nigeria and is being blamed for the high rate of sexual abuse against young children.
South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world. A survey by CIET found around 11% of boys and 4% of girls admitted to forcing someone else to have sex with them. In a related survey conducted among 1,500 schoolchildren, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that "jackrolling", a term for gang rape, was fun. More than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children were reported in 2000 in South Africa, compared to 37,500 in 1998. Child welfare groups believe that the number of unreported incidents could be up to 10 times that number. The largest increase in attacks was against children under seven. The virgin cleansing myth is especially common in South Africa, which has the highest number of HIV-positive citizens in the world. Eastern Cape social worker Edith Kriel notes that "child abusers are often relatives of their victims – even their fathers and providers."
A number of high-profile baby rapes appeared since 2001 (including the fact that they required extensive reconstructive surgery to rebuild urinary, genital, abdominal, or tracheal systems). In 2001, a 9-month-old was raped and likely lost consciousness as the pain was too much to bear. In February 2002, an 8-month-old infant was reportedly gang raped by four men. One has been charged. The infant has required extensive reconstructive surgery. The 8-month-old infant's injuries were so extensive, increased attention on prosecution has occurred.
Child rape is on the rise in the war ravaged eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Aid workers blame combatants on all sides for a culture of sexual violence, who operate with much impunity.
Child sexual abuse occurs frequently in Western society. The rate of prevalence can be difficult to determine.
In the UK, a 2010 study estimated prevalence at about 5% for boys and 18% for girls (not dissimilar to a 1985 study that estimated about 8% for boys and 12% for girls). More than 23,000 incidents were recorded by the UK police between 2009 and 2010. Girls were six times more likely to be assaulted than boys with 86% of attacks taking place against them. The estimates for the United States vary widely. A literature review of 23 studies found rates of 3% to 37% for males and 8% to 71% for females, which produced an average of 17% for boys and 28% for girls, while a statistical analysis based on 16 cross-sectional studies estimated the rate to be 7.2% for males and 14.5% for females. The US Department of Health and Human Services reported 83,600 substantiated reports of sexually abused children in 2005. Including incidents which were not reported would make the total number even larger. According to Emily M. Douglas and David Finkelhor, "Several national studies have found that black and white children experienced near-equal levels of sexual abuse. Other studies, however, have found that both blacks and Latinos have an increased risk for sexual victimization".
Surveys have shown that one fifth to one third of all women reported some sort of childhood sexual experience with a male adult. A 1992 survey studying father-daughter incest in Finland reported that of the 9,000 15-year old high school girls who filled out the questionnaires, of the girls living with their biological fathers, 0.2% reported father-daughter incest experiences; of the girls living with a stepfather, 3.7% reported sexual experiences with him. The reported counts included only father-daughter incest and did not include prevalence of other forms of child sexual abuse. The survey summary stated, "the feelings of the girls about their incestual experiences are overwhelmingly negative." Others argue that prevalence rates are much higher, and that many cases of child abuse are never reported. One study found that professionals failed to report approximately 40% of the child sexual abuse cases they encountered. A study by Lawson & Chaffin indicated that many children who were sexually abused were "identified solely by a physical complaint that was later diagnosed as a venereal disease...Only 43% of the children who were diagnosed with venereal disease made a verbal disclosure of sexual abuse during the initial interview." It has been found in the epidemiological literature on CSA that there is no identifiable demographic or family characteristic of a child that can be used to bar the prospect that a child has been sexually abused.
In US schools, according to the United States Department of Education, "nearly 9.6% of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career." In studies of student sex abuse by male and female educators, male students were reported as targets in ranges from 23% to 44%. In U.S. school settings same-sex (female and male) sexual misconduct against students by educators "ranges from 18–28% of reported cases, depending on the study"
Significant underreporting of sexual abuse of boys by both women and men is believed to occur due to sex stereotyping, social denial, the minimization of male victimization, and the relative lack of research on sexual abuse of boys. Sexual victimization of boys by their mothers or other female relatives is especially rarely researched or reported. Sexual abuse of girls by their mothers, and other related and/or unrelated adult females is beginning to be researched and reported despite the highly taboo nature of female–female child sex abuse. In studies where students are asked about sex offenses, they report higher levels of female sex offenders than found in adult reports. This underreporting has been attributed to cultural denial of female-perpetrated child sex abuse, because "males have been socialized to believe they should be flattered or appreciative of sexual interest from a female." Journalist Cathy Young writes that under-reporting is contributed to by the difficulty of people, including jurors, in seeing a male as a "true victim".
Nineteen percent of the world's children live in India, which constitutes 42 percent of India’s total population.
In 2007 the Ministry of Women and Child Development published the "Study on Child Abuse: India 2007." It sampled 12447 children, 2324 young adults and 2449 stakeholders across 13 states. It looked at different forms of child abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse and girl child neglect in five evidence groups, namely, children in a family environment, children in school, children at work, children on the street and children in institutions.
The study's main findings included: 53.22% of children reported having faced sexual abuse. Among them 52.94% were boys and 47.06% girls. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls, as well as the highest incidence of sexual assaults. 21.90% of child respondents faced severe forms of sexual abuse, 5.69% had been sexually assaulted and 50.76% reported other forms of sexual abuse. Children on the street, at work and in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault. The study also reported that 50% of abusers are known to the child or are in a position of trust and responsibility and most children had not reported the matter to anyone. Despite years of lack of any specific child sexual abuse laws in India, which treated them separately from adults in case of sexual offense, the 'Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011' was passed the Indian parliament on May 22, 2012.
In one survey, 2.5% of Taiwanese adolescents report having experienced childhood sexual abuse.
UK Ambassador Craig Murray has written that the government of Uzbekistan, under president Islam Karimov, used child rape to force false confessions from prisoners.
Child sexual abuse is outlawed nearly everywhere in the world, generally with severe criminal penalties, including in some jurisdictions, life imprisonment or capital punishment. An adult's sexual intercourse with a child below the legal age of consent is defined as statutory rape, based on the principle that a child is not capable of consent and that any apparent consent by a child is not considered to be legal consent.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international treaty that legally obliges states to protect children's rights. Articles 34 and 35 of the CRC require states to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. This includes outlawing the coercion of a child to perform sexual activity, the prostitution of children, and the exploitation of children in creating pornography. States are also required to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children. As of November 2008, 193 countries are bound by the CRC, including every member of the United Nations except the United States and Somalia.
Child sexual abuse has gained public attention in the past few decades and has become one of the most high-profile crimes. Since the 1970s the sexual abuse of children and child molestation has increasingly been recognized as deeply damaging to children and thus unacceptable for society as a whole. While sexual use of children by adults has been present throughout history, it has only become the object of significant public attention in recent times.][
The first published work dedicated specifically to child sexual abuse appeared in France in 1857: Medical-Legal Studies of Sexual Assault (Etude Médico-Légale sur les Attentats aux Mœurs), by Auguste Ambroise Tardieu, the noted French pathologist and pioneer of forensic medicine.
Child sexual abuse became a public issue in the 1970s and 1980s. Prior to this point in time, sexual abuse remained rather secretive and socially unspeakable.][ Studies on child molestation were nonexistent until the 1920s and the first national estimate of the number of child sexual abuse cases was published in 1948. By 1968 44 out of 50 U.S. states had enacted mandatory laws that required physicians to report cases of suspicious child abuse. Legal action began to become more prevalent in the 1970s with the enactment of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in 1974 in conjunction with the creation of the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect. Since the creation of the Child Abuse and Treatment Act, reported child abuse cases have increased dramatically. Finally, the National Abuse Coalition was created in 1979 to create pressure in congress to create more sexual abuse laws.
Second wave feminism brought greater awareness of child sexual abuse and violence against women, and made them public, political issues. Judith Lewis Herman, Harvard professor of psychiatry, wrote the first book ever on father-daughter incest when she discovered during her medical residency that a large number of the women she was seeing had been victims of father-daughter incest. Herman notes that her approach to her clinical experience grew out of her involvement in the civil rights movement. Her second book Trauma and Recovery coined the term complex post-traumatic stress disorder and included child sexual abuse as a possible cause.
In 1986, Congress passed the Child Abuse Victims' Rights Act, giving children a civil claim in sexual abuse cases. The number of laws created in the 1980s and 1990s began to create greater prosecution and detection of child sexual abusers. During the 1970s a large transition began in the legislature related to child sexual abuse. Megan's Law which was enacted in 2004 gives the public access to knowledge of sex offenders nationwide.
Anne Hastings described these changes in attitudes towards child sexual abuse as "the beginning of one of history's largest social revolutions."
According to John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor B.J. Cling,
"By the early 21st century, the issue of child sexual abuse has become a legitimate focus of professional attention, while increasingly separated from second wave feminism...As child sexual abuse becomes absorbed into the larger field of interpersonal trauma studies, child sexual abuse studies and intervention strategies have become degendered and largely unaware of their political origins in modern feminism and other vibrant political movements of the 1970s. One may hope that unlike in the past, this rediscovery of child sexual abuse that began in the 70s will not again be followed by collective amnesia. The institutionalization of child maltreatment interventions in federally funded centers, national and international societies, and a host of research studies (in which the United States continues to lead the world) offers grounds for cautious optimism. Nevertheless, as Judith Herman argues cogently, 'The systematic study of psychological trauma...depends on the support of a political movement.'"
In the United States growing awareness of child sexual abuse has sparked an increasing number of civil lawsuits for monetary damages stemming from such incidents. Increased awareness of child sexual abuse has encouraged more victims to come forward, whereas in the past victims often kept their abuse secret. Some states have enacted specific laws lengthening the applicable statutes of limitations so as to allow victims of child sexual abuse to file suit sometimes years after they have reached the age of majority. Such lawsuits can be brought where a person or entity, such as a school, church or youth organization, was charged with supervising the child but failed to do so with child sexual abuse resulting. In the Catholic sex abuse cases the various Roman Catholic Diocese in the United States have paid out approximately $1 billion settling hundreds of such lawsuits since the early 1990s. There have also been lawsuits involving the American Religious Right. Crimes have allegedly gone unreported and victims were pressured into silence. As lawsuits can involve demanding procedures there is a concern that children or adults who file suit will be re-victimized by defendants through the legal process, much as rape victims can be re-victimized by the accused in criminal rape trials. The child sexual abuse plaintiff's attorney Thomas A. Cifarelli has written that children involved in the legal system, particularly victims of sexual abuse and molestation, should be afforded certain procedural safeguards to protect them from harassment during the legal process.
In June 2008 in Zambia the issue of teacher-student sexual abuse and sexual assault was brought to the attention of the High Court of Zambia where a landmark case decision, with presiding Judge Philip Musonda, awarded $45million Zambian Kwacha ($13,000 USD) to the plaintiff, a 13-year-old girl for sexual abuse and rape by her school teacher. This claim was brought against her teacher as a "person of authority" who, as Judge Musonda stated, "had a moral superiority (responsibility) over his students" at the time.
A 2000 World Health Organization – Geneva report, “World Report on Violence and Health (Chap 6 – Sexual Violence)” states, “Action in schools is vital for reducing sexual and other forms of violence. In many countries a sexual relation between a teacher and a pupil is not a serious disciplinary offence and policies on sexual harassment in schools either do not exist or are not implemented. In recent years, though, some countries have introduced laws prohibiting sexual relations between teachers and pupils. Such measures are important in helping eradicate sexual harassment in schools. At the same time, a wider range of actions is also needed, including changes to teacher training and recruitment and reforms of curricula, so as to transform gender relations in schools.”
In March 2011 Europol, the European Police, in a mission called Operation Rescue, arrested 184 alleged members out of 670 identified, of an online paedophile ring and rescued 230 children which is considered as the biggest case of its kind.
Psychological abuse, also referred to as emotional abuse or mental abuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Such abuse is often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, bullying, and abuse in the workplace.
As of 1996[update], There were "no consensus views about the definition of emotional abuse." As such, clinicians and researchers have offered sometimes divergent definitions of emotional abuse. However, the widely used Conflict Tactics Scale measures roughly twenty distinct acts of "psychological aggression" in three different categories:
The U.S. Department of Justice defines emotionally abusive traits as including causing fear by: intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends, destruction of pets and property, forcing isolation from family, friends, or school or work.
In 1996, Health Canada argued that emotional abuse is "based on power and control", and defines emotional abuse as including rejecting, degrading, terrorizing, isolating, corrupting/exploiting and "denying emotional responsiveness" as characteristic of emotional abuse.
Several studies have argued that an isolated incident of either verbal aggression, dominant conduct or jealous behaviors does not constitute the term "psychological abuse." Rather, a pattern of such behaviors is a more appropriate scenario to be considered, unlike physical and sexual maltreatment where only one incident is necessary to label it as abuse. Tomison and Tucci write, "emotional abuse is characterised by a climate or pattern of behavior(s) occurring over time [...] Thus, 'sustained' and 'repetitive' are the crucial components of any definition of emotional abuse." Andrew Vachss, an author, attorney and former sex crimes investigator, defines emotional abuse as "the systematic diminishment of another. It may be intentional or subconscious (or both), but it is always a course of conduct, not a single event."
Subtler emotionally abusive tactics include insults, putdowns, arbitrary and unpredictable inconsistency, and gaslighting (the denial that previous abusive incidents occurred). Modern technology has led to new forms of abuse, by text messaging and online cyber-bullying.
Domestic abuse—defined as chronic mistreatment in marriage, families, dating and other intimate relationships —- can include emotionally abusive behavior. Psychological abuse does not always lead to physical abuse, but physical abuse in domestic relationships is nearly always preceded and accompanied by psychological abuse. Murphy and O'Leary report that psychological aggression by one partner is the most reliable predictor of the other partner's likelihood of first exhibiting physical aggression.
A 2005 study by Hamel reports that "men and women physically and emotionally abuse each other at equal rates." Basile found that psychological aggression was effectively bidirectional in cases where heterosexual and homosexual couples went to court for domestic disturbances. A 2007 study of Spanish college students aged 18–27 found that psychological aggression (as measured by the Conflict Tactics Scale) is so pervasive in dating relationships that it can be regarded as a normalized element of dating, and that women are substantially more likely to exhibit psychological aggression. Similar findings have been reported in other studies. Strauss et al. found that female intimate partners in heterosexual relationships were more likely than males to use psychological aggression, including threats to hit or throw an object. A study of young adults by Giordano et al. found that females in intimate heterosexual relationships were more likely than males to threaten to use a knife or gun against their partner.
Numerous studies done between the 1980 and 1994 report that lesbian relationships have higher overall rates of interpersonal aggression (including psychological aggression/emotional abuse) than heterosexual or gay male relationships. Furthermore, women who have been involved with both men and women reported higher rates of abuse from their female partners.
In 1996, the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, for Health Canada, reported that 39% of married women or common-law wives suffered emotional abuse by husbands/partners; and a 1995 survey of women 15 and over 36-43% reported emotional abuse during childhood or adolescence, and 39% experienced emotional abuse in marriage/dating; this report does not address boys or men suffering emotional abuse from families or intimate partners. A BBC radio documentary on domestic abuse, including emotional maltreatment, reports that 20% of men and 30% of women have been abused by a spouse or other intimate partner.
Emotional abuse of a child is commonly defined as a pattern of behavior by parents or caregivers that can seriously interfere with a child’s cognitive, emotional, psychological or social development. Some parents may emotionally and psychologically harm their children because of stress, poor parenting skills, social isolation, and lack of available resources or inappropriate expectations of their children. They may emotionally abuse their children because the parents or caregivers were emotionally abused during their own childhood. Straus and Field report that psychological aggression is a pervasive trait of American families: "verbal attacks on children, like physical attacks, are so prevalent as to be just about universal." A 2008 study by English, et al.found that fathers and mothers were equally likely to be verbally aggressive towards their children.
Choi and Mayer performed a study on elder abuse (causing harm or distress to an older person), with results showing that 10.5% of the participants were victims of "emotional/psychological abuse," which was most often perpetrated by a son or other relative of the victim. Of 1288 cases in 2002–2004, 1201 individuals, 42 couples, and 45 groups were found to have been abused. Of these, 70 percent were female. Psychological abuse (59%) and material/financial (42%) were the most frequently identified types of abuse.
Rates of reported emotional abuse in the workplace vary, with studies showing 10% 24% and 36% of respondents indicating persistent and substantial emotional abuse from coworkers.
Keashly and Jagatic found that males and females commit "emotionally abusive behaviors" in the workplace at roughly similar rates. In a web-based survey, Namie found that women were more likely to engage in workplace bullying, such as name-calling, and that the average length of abuse was 16.5 months.
Pai and Lee found that the incidence of workplace violence typically occurs more often in younger workers. "Younger age may be a reflection of lack of job experience, resulting in [an inability] to identify or prevent potentially abusive situations...Another finding showed that lower education is a risk factor for violence." This study also reports that 51.4% of the workers surveyed have already experienced verbal abuse, and 29.8% of them have encountered bullying/mobbing within the workplace.
In their review of data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (a longitudinal birth cohort study) Moffitt et al. report that while men exhibit more aggression overall, gender is not a reliable predictor of interpersonal aggression, including psychological aggression. The study found that whether male or female, aggressive people share a cluster of traits, including high rates of suspicion and jealousy; sudden and drastic mood swings; poor self-control; and higher than average rates of approval of violence and aggression. Moffitt et al. also argue that antisocial men exhibit two distinct types of interpersonal aggression (one against strangers, the other against intimate female partners), while antisocial women are rarely aggressive against anyone other than intimate male partners.
Male and female perpetrators of emotional and physical abuse exhibit high rates of personality disorders. Rates of personality disorder in the general population are roughly 15%-20%, while roughly 80% of abusive men in court-ordered treatment programmes have personality disorders.
Abusers may aim to avoid household chores or exercise total control of family finances. Abusers can be very manipulative, often recruiting friends, law officers and court officials, even the victim's family to their side, while shifting blame to the victim.
Most victims of psychological abuse within intimate relationships often experience changes to their psyche and actions. This varies throughout the various types and lengths of emotional abuse. Long-term emotional abuse has long term debilitating effects on a person's sense of self and integrity. Often, research shows that emotional abuse is a precursor to physical abuse when three particular forms of emotional abuse are present in the relationship: threats, restriction of the abused party and damage to the victim's property.
A study of college students by Goldsmith and Freyd report that many who have experienced emotional abuse do not characterize the mistreatment as abusive. Additionally, Goldsmith and Freyd show that these people also tend to exhibit higher than average rates of alexithymia (difficulty identifying and processing their own emotions). This is often the case when referring to victims of abuse within intimate relationships, as non-recognition of the actions as abuse may be a coping or defense mechanism in order to either seek to master, minimize or tolerate stress or conflict.
Jacobson et al. found that women report markedly higher rates of fear during marital conflicts. However, a rejoinder argued that Jacobson's results were invalid due to men and women's drastically differing interpretations of questionnaires. Coker et al. found that the effects of mental abuse were similar whether the victim was male or female. Pimlott-Kubiak and Cortina found that severity and duration of abuse were the only accurate predictors of aftereffects of abuse; sex of perpetrator or victim were not reliable predictors.
Analysis of a large survey by LaRoche found that women abused by men were slightly more likely to seek psychological help than were men abused by women (63% vs. 62%).
In a 2007 study, Laurent, et al., report that psychological aggression in young couples is associated with decreased satisfaction for both partners: "psychological aggression may serve as an impediment to couples' development because it reflects less mature coercive tactics and an inability to balance self/other needs effectively." A 2008 study by Walsh and Shulman reports that relationship dissatisfaction for both partners is more likely to be associated with, in women, psychological aggression and, in men, with withdrawal.
English, et al. report that children whose families are characterized by interpersonal violence, including psychological aggression and verbal aggression, may exhibit a range of serious disorders, including chronic depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation and anger. Additionally, English et al. report that the impact of emotional abuse "did not differ significantly" from that of physical abuse. Johnson et al. report that, in a survey of female patients, 24% suffered emotional abuse, and this group experienced higher rates of gynecological problems. In their study of men emotionally abused by a wife/partner or parent, Hines and Malley-Morrison report that victims exhibit high rates of post traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction and alcoholism.
Glaser, D. reports, "An infant who is severely deprived of basic emotional nurturance, even though physically well cared for, can fail to thrive and can eventually die. Babies with less severe emotional deprivation can grow into anxious and insecure children who are slow to develop and who have low self-esteem." Glaser also informs that the abuse impacts the child in a number of ways, especially on their behavior, including: "insecurity, poor self-esteem, destructive behavior, angry acts (such as fire setting and animal cruelty), withdrawal, poor development of basic skills, alcohol or drug abuse, suicide, difficulty forming relationships and unstable job histories." Also, these children often grow up to become parents who abuse their own children, either emotionally or otherwise, due to the child's development being impaired in all domains of functioning.
Oberlander, et al. performed a study which discovered that among the youth, those with a history of maltreatment showed that emotional distress is a predictor of early initiation of sexual intercourse. Oberlander, et al. state, "A childhood history of maltreatment, including...psychological abuse, and neglect, has been identified as a risk factor for early initiation of sexual intercourse...In families where child maltreatment had occurred, children were more likely to experience heightened emotional distress and subsequently to engage in sexual intercourse by age 14. It is possible that maltreated youth feel disconnected from families that did not protect them and subsequently seek sexual relationships to gain support, seek companionship, or enhance their standing with peers." It is apparent that psychological abuse sustained during childhood is a predictor of the onset of sexual conduct occurring earlier in life, as opposed to later.
Some studies tend to focus on psychological abuse within the workplace. Namie's study of workplace emotional abuse found that 31% of women and 21% of men who reported workplace emotional abuse exhibited three key symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (hypervigilance, intrusive imagery, and avoidance behaviors). A 1998 study of male college students by Simonelli & Ingram found that men who were emotionally abused by their female partners exhibited higher rates of chronic depression than the general population.
Sexual harassment is a form of psychological abuse of a sexual nature. For the victims of sexual harassment, negative psychological and emotional effects often occur. The most common psychological, professional, financial, and social effects of sexual harassment and retaliation are as follows:
Recognition of abuse is the first step to prevention. It is often difficult for abuse victims to acknowledge their situation and to seek help. For those who do seek help, research has shown that people who participate in Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Program report less psychological aggression toward their targets of psychological abuse, and reported victimization from psychological abuse decreased over time for the treatment group.
There are non-profit organizations which provide support and prevention services, such as the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women, operated by staff and trained volunteers to offer information and crisis intervention to victims of domestic violence.
Child abuse in the sole form of emotional/psychological maltreatment is often the most difficult to identify and prevent, as Child Protective Services is often the only method of intervention, and the institute "must have demonstrable evidence that harm to a child has been done before they can intervene. And, since emotional abuse doesn’t result in physical evidence such as bruising or malnutrition, it can be very hard to diagnose." Some researchers have, however, begun to develop methods to diagnose and treat such abuse, including the ability to: identify risk factors, provide resources to victims and their families, and ask appropriate questions to help identify the abuse.
The majority of companies within the United States provide access to a Human Resources department, in which to report cases of psychological/emotional abuse. Also, many managers are required to participate in conflict management programs, in order to ensure the workplace maintains an "open and respectful atmosphere, with tolerance for diversity and where the existence of interpersonal frustration and friction is accepted but also properly managed." Organizations must adopt zero-tolerance policies for professional verbal abuse. Education and coaching are needed to help employees to improve their skills when responding to professional-to-professional verbal abuse.
Several studies found double standards in how people tend to view emotional abuse by men versus emotional abuse by women. Follingstad et al. found that, when rating hypothetical vignettes of psychological abuse in marriages, professional psychologists tend to rate male abuse of females as more serious than identical scenarios describing female abuse of males: "the stereotypical association between physical aggression and males appears to extend to an association of psychological abuse and males" (Follingstad et al., p. 446) Similarly, Sorenson and Taylor randomly surveyed a group of Los Angeles, California residents for their opinions of hypothetical vignettes of abuse in heterosexual relationships. Their study found that abuse committed by women, including emotional and psychological abuse such as controlling or humiliating behavior, was typically viewed as less serious or detrimental than identical abuse committed by men. Additionally, Sorenson and Taylor found that respondents had a broader range of opinions about female perpetrators, representing a lack of clearly defined mores when compared to responses about male perpetrators.
When considering the emotional state of psychological abusers, psychologists have focused on aggression as a contributing factor. While it is typical for people to consider males to be the more aggressive of the two sexes, researchers have studied female aggression to help understand psychological abuse patterns in situations involving female abusers. According to Walsh and Shluman, "The higher rates of female initiated aggression [including psychological aggression] may result, in part, from adolescents' attitudes about the unacceptability of male aggression and the relatively less negative attitudes toward female aggression". This concept that females are raised with fewer restrictions on aggressive behaviors (possibly due to the anxiety over aggression being focused on males) is a possible explanation for women who utilize aggression when being mentally abusive.
Some researchers have become interested in discovering exactly why women are usually not considered to be abusive. Hamel's 2007 study found that a "prevailing patriarchal conception of intimate partner violence" led to a systematic reluctance to study women who psychologically and physically abuse their male partners. These findings state that existing cultural norms show that males are more dominant and are therefore more likely to begin abusing their significant partners.
Dutton found that men who are emotionally or physically abused often encounter victim blaming that erroneously presumes the man either provoked or deserved the mistreatment of their female partners. Similarly, domestic violence victims will often blame their own behavior, rather than the violent actions of the abuser. Victims may try continually to alter their behavior and circumstances in order to please their abuser. Often, this results in further dependence of the individual on their abuser, as they may often change certain aspects of their lives that limit their resources. Studies show that emotional abusers frequently aim to exercise total control of different aspects of family life. This behavior is only supported when the victim of the abuse aims to please their abuser.
Many abusers are able to control their victims in a manipulative manner, utilizing methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the abuser, rather than to force them to do something they do not wish to do. Simon argues that because aggression in abusive relationships can be carried out subtly and covertly through various manipulation and control tactics, victims often don't perceive the true nature of the relationship until conditions worsen considerably.
Some scholars argue that for hundreds or thousands of years, male dominated societies have created negative attitudes towards women among many men. They also state that wife abuse stems from "normal psychological and behavioral patterns of most men ... feminists seek to understand why men, in general, use physical force against their partners and what functions this serves for a society in a given historical context". Similarly, Dobash and Dobash claim that "Men who assault their wives are actually living up to cultural prescriptions that are cherished in Western society--aggressiveness, male dominance and female subordination--and they are using physical force as a means to enforce that dominance," while Walker claims that men exhibit a "socialized androcentric need for power".
While some women are aggressive and dominating to male partners, some studies show that the majority of abuse in heterosexual partnerships, at about 80% in the USA, is perpetrated by men. (Note that critics stress that this Department of Justice study examines crime figures, and does not specifically address domestic abuse figures. While the categories of crime and domestic abuse may cross-over, most instances of domestic abuse are either not regarded as crimes or reported to police—critics thus argue that it is inaccurate to regard the DOJ study as a comprehensive statement on domestic abuse, because compelling evidence shows that men and women tend to commit emotional and physical abuse in roughly equal rates.) A 2002 study reports that ten percent of violence in the UK, overall, is by females against males. However, more recent data specifically regarding domestic abuse (including emotional abuse) report that 3 in 10 women, and 2 in 10 men, have experienced domestic abuse.
Commentators argue that legal systems have in the past endorsed these traditions of male domination, and it is only in recent years that abusers have begun to be punished for their behavior. In 1879, Harvard University law scholar wrote, "The cases in the American courts are uniform against the right of the husband to use any chastisement, moderate or otherwise, toward the wife, for any purpose."
While recognizing that feminist researchers have done valuable work and highlighted neglected topics critics suggest that the male cultural domination hypothesis for abuse is untenable as a generalized explanation for numerous reasons:
Many older (and some not so old) children's stories contain gender stereotyping. In many children's books, boys are often portrayed as being active, adventurous, and goal-oriented, while young girls are typically shown as passive and staying indoors. Men are direct and in control, while women are submissive followers. Music videos and computer games for children and teenagers have been criticised for continuing to portray men as aggressive and in control, while the females are there only for their sexual allure; women are portrayed as wanting to be chased and caught when they run away. Grand Theft Auto, for example, is a video game in which players are instructed to commit a wide variety of crimes and violent acts while dealing with only temporary consequences, including the killing of prostitutes. Females are portrayed as sexual objects, while males are depicted as domineering and hostile.
Studies completed on gender stereotyping in television and advertising show that females are often projected in different lights than males. "Compared to men characters, women in the advertisements were less prevalent, more likely to be shown in families, less likely to hold jobs, less likely to be employed in professional occupations, more likely to be employed in service/clerical occupations, less likely to exercise authority, less likely to display active/instrumental behavior, and more likely to be pictured as sex objects."
Some argue that fundamentalist views of religions, which have developed in male-dominated cultures, tend to reinforce emotional abuse. researcher states, "Gender inequity is usually translated into a power imbalance with women being more vulnerable. This vulnerability is more precarious in traditional patriarchal societies."
The Book of Genesis has often been cited as an example of a Christian text that has been used to justify men abusing women: "in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children: and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
Islam is also often criticized for the inequality of men and women observing the religion. Women who observe Islamic traditions frequently veil themselves with a hijab and also cover the rest of their bodies entirely with clothing. Western societies often remark on the inequality of women in Islamic cultures. The Quran addresses the issue of women covering their body: "Tell the believing woman to cast down their eyes, guard their chastity, and not to show off their beauty except what is permitted by the law. Let them cover their breasts with their veils. They must not show off their beauty to anyone other than their husbands, father, father-in-laws, sons..." This may lead readers to believe that the Quran only restricts women in sexual matters. Writers of 'Human Rights: new perspectives, new realities', however, state, "Contrary to common belief some quranic restrictions apply equally to men and women; the Quran advises both sexes to be chaste, avoid temptation, conceal their private parts, and "cast down their eyes...But, the Quran includes some more specific references to women's concealing." This is evidence that women who observe Islamic traditions are not the only members of Islam who are restricted by the Quran in sexual matters.
Another religion in which women are perceived to be treated as inferior to men is that of Buddhism. Vinaya-pitaka section of the Tripitaka (Pali Canon) states that female Buddhists are referred to as bhikkuni (nun), while males are bhikku (monk). A nun has rules in addition to those given to a monk, which include subordination to monks; the most senior nuns are to be considered inferior to a monk on his first day. O'Brien includes information to state that this section of the Tripitaka is often disputed, as discrepancies between this section and the Pali Bhikkuni Vinaya (the section of the Pali Canon dealing with the rules for nuns) often arise. O'Brien concludes, "the more odious rules were added after the Buddha's death. Wherever they came from, over the centuries the rules were used in many parts of Asia to discourage women from being ordained." O'Brien later states that Buddhism today is striving for equality between the sexes, which shows that progress is slowly changing the perception of women in the Buddhist monasteries.
Critics also suggest that fundamentalist religious prohibitions against divorce make it more difficult for religious men or women to leave an abusive marriage: A 1985 survey of Protestant clergy in the United States by Jim M Alsdurf found that 21% of them agreed that "no amount of abuse would justify a woman's leaving her husband, ever," and 26% agreed with the statement that "a wife should submit to her husband and trust that God would honor her action by either stopping the abuse or giving her the strength to endure it." With these statements, victims may often feel trapped and helpless, as it is evident in religious institutions (as well as in the media) that victims of psychological abuse should endure such struggles and either learn to live with it, or simply find a method of overcoming the obstacle.
Physical abuse is an act of another party involving contact intended to cause feelings of physical pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm. Physical abuse has been described among animals too, for example among the Adélie penguins. In most cases, children are the victims of physical abuse, but adults can be the sufferers too. Physically abused children are at risk for later interpersonal problems involving aggressive behavior, and adolescents are at a much greater risk for substance abuse. In addition, symptoms of depression, emotional distress, and suicidal ideation are also common features of people who have been physically abused. Studies have also shown that children with a history of physical abuse may meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The causes of physical abuse against children are numerous but listed below are some of the common causes according to Mash and Wolfe.
Consensual physical abuse is a common component of erotic humiliation and BDSM.
Seeking treatment is unlikely for a majority of people that are physically abused, and the ones who are seeking treatment are usually under some form of legal constraint. The prevention and treatment options for physically abused children include: enhancing positive experiences early in the development of the parent-child relationship, change how parents teach, discipline, and attend to their children, receive cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which specifically targets anger patterns and distorted beliefs, and receive training that focuses on parenting skills and expectations. This may include training in social competence and management of daily demands. Although these treatment and prevention strategies are to help children and parents of children who have been abused, some of these methods can also be applied to adults who have physically abused.
Age of consent Antisexualism
Deviant sexual intercourse
Miscegenation (interracial relations)
Pornography Public morality
Red-light district Reproductive rights
Same-sex marriage Striptease
Adultery Buggery Child grooming
Child pornography Child prostitution
Criminal transmission of HIV
Female genital mutilation
Incest Pimping Prostitution (forced)
Pedophilia Public indecency
Rape (statutory marital)
Seduction Sexting Sexual abuse (child)
Sexual assault Sexual harassment
Slavery Sodomy UK Section 63 (2008)
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester. The term also covers any behavior by any adult towards a child to stimulate either the adult or child sexually. When the victim is younger than the age of consent, it is referred to as child sexual abuse.
Spousal sexual abuse is a form of domestic violence. When the abuse involves forced sex, it may constitute rape upon the other spouse, depending on the jurisdiction, and may also constitute an assault.
Sexual misconduct can occur where one person uses a position of authority to compel another person to engage in an otherwise unwanted sexual activity. For example, sexual harassment in the workplace might involve an employee being coerced into a sexual situation out of fear of being dismissed. Sexual harassment in education might involve a student submitting to the sexual advances of a person in authority in fear of being punished, for example by being given a failing grade.
Several sexual abuse scandals have involved abuse of religious authority and often cover-up among non-abusers, including cases in the Southern Baptist religion, Catholic Church, Episcopalian religion, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutheran church, Methodist Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Orthodox Judaism, other branches of Judaism, and various cults.
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which a child is abused for the sexual gratification of an adult or older adolescent. In addition to direct sexual contact, child sexual abuse also occurs when an adult engages in indecent exposer (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.) to a child with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to intimidate or groom the child, asks or pressures a child to engage in sexual activities, displays pornography to a child, or uses a child to produce child pornography.
Effects of child sexual abuse include guilt and self-blame, flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, fear of things associated with the abuse (including objects, smells, places, doctor's visits, etc.), self-esteem issues, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, addiction, self-injury, suicidal ideation, somatic complaints, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, other mental illnesses (including borderline personality disorder) propensity to re-victimization in adulthood, and physical injury to the child, among other problems. Victims of child sex abuse are over six times more likely to attempt suicide and eight times more likely to repeatedly attempt suicide. The abusers are also more likely to commit suicide. Much of the harm caused to victims becomes apparent years after the abuse happens.
Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest, and results in more serious and long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.
Approximately 15% to 25% of women and 5% to 15% of men were sexually abused when they were children. Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. Most child sexual abuse is committed by men; women commit approximately 14% of offenses reported against boys and 6% of offenses reported against girls. Most offenders who abuse pre-pubescent children are pedophiles; however, a small percentage do not meet the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia.
People with developmental disabilities are often victims of sexual abuse. According to research, people with disabilities are at a greater risk for victimization of sexual assault or sexual abuse because of lack of understanding (Sobsey & Varnhagen, 1989). The rate of sexual abuse happening to people with disabilities is shocking, yet most of these cases will go unnoticed.
Sexual abuse is a big issue in some minority communities. In 2007, a number of Hispanic victims were included in the settlement of a massive sexual abuse case involving the Los Angeles archdiocese of the Catholic Church. To address the issue of sexual abuse in the African-American community, the prestigious Leeway Foundation sponsored a grant to develop www.blacksurvivors.org, a national online support group and resource center for African-American sexual abuse survivors. The non-profit group was founded in 2008 by Sylvia Coleman, an African-American sexual abuse survivor and national sexual abuse prevention expert.
The term survivor is sometimes used for a living victim, even of usually non-fatal harm, to honor and empower the strength of an individual to heal, in particular a living victim of sexual abuse or assault. For example, there are the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and The Survivors Trust.
Sexual abuse has been identified among animals too, for example among the Adélie penguins.
The Catholic sex abuse cases are a series of allegations, investigations, trials and convictions of child sexual abuse crimes committed by Catholic priests, nuns and members of Roman Catholic orders against children as young as three years old with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14. These cases included anal sex, and oral penetration, and there have been criminal prosecutions of the abusers and civil lawsuits against the church's dioceses and parishes. Many of the cases span several decades and are brought forward years after the abuse occurred. Cases have also been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy who did not report sex abuse allegations to the legal authorities. It has been shown they deliberately moved sexually abusive priests to other parishes where the abuse sometimes continued. This has led to a number of fraud cases where the Church has been accused of misleading victims by deliberately relocating priests accused of abuse instead of removing them from their positions.
In the 1950s, Gerald Fitzgerald, the founder of a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children, concluded that "(such) offenders were unlikely to change and should not be returned to ministry," and this was discussed with Pope Paul VI (1897 – 1978) and "in correspondence with several bishops." In 2001, sex abuse cases were first required to be reported to Rome with the publication of Pope John Paul II's Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela – previously, an individual Ordinary was permitted to handle the accusations. This change placed all such cases under the auspices of Cardinal Ratzinger, who served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 until he was named Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. The Dallas Morning News did a year-long investigation, after the 2002 revelation that cases of abuse were widespread in the Church. The results made public in 2004 showed that even after the public outcry, priests were moved out of the countries where they had been accused and were still in "settings that bring them into contact with children, despite church claims to the contrary." Among the investigation's findings is that nearly half of 200 cases "involved clergy who tried to elude law enforcement." In July 2010, the Vatican doubled the length of time after the 18th birthday of the victim that clergymen can be tried in a church court and streamlined the processes for removing "pedophile priests."
The cases received significant media and public attention in Canada, Ireland, the United States, and throughout the world. In response to the attention, members of the church hierarchy have argued that media coverage has been excessive and disproportionate. According to a Pew Research Center study, media coverage mostly emanated from the United States in 2002, when the Boston Globe began a critical investigation. By 2010 much of the reporting focused on child abuse in Europe. From 2001-2010 the Holy See, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, has "considered sex abuse allegations concerning about 3,000 priests dating back up to 50 years" according to the Vatican's Promoter of Justice. Cases worldwide reflect patterns of long-term abuse and the covering up of reports. Church officials and academics knowledgeable about the Third World Roman Catholic Church, say that sexual abuse by clergy is generally not discussed, and thus is difficult to measure. In the Philippines where as of 2002[update] at least 85% of the population is Catholic, revelations of child sexual abuse by priests followed the United States' reporting in 2002.
In the United States, which has been the lead focus of much of the scandals and subsequent reforms, BishopAccountability.org, an "online archive established by lay Catholics," reports that over 3,000 civil lawsuits have been filed against the church, some of these cases have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements with many claimants. In 1998 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas paid $30.9 million to twelve victims of one priest ($43.5 million in present-day terms). From 2003 to 2009 nine other major settlements involving over 375 cases with 1551 claimants/victims, resulted in payments of over $1.1 billion USD. The Associated Press estimated the settlements of sex abuse cases from 1950 to 2007 totaled more than $2 billion. BishopAccountability puts the figure at more than $3 billion in 2012. Addressing "a flood of abuse claims" five dioceses (Tucson, Arizona; Spokane, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Davenport, Iowa, and San Diego) got bankruptcy protection. Eight Catholic dioceses have declared bankruptcy due to sex abuse cases from 2004-2011.
Sexual abuse of children under the age of consent by priests receives significant media and public attention in Canada, Ireland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Belgium, France, Germany and Australia, while cases have been reported throughout the world. Many of the cases span several decades and are brought forward years after the abuse occurred.
Although nation-wide enquiries have only been conducted in the United States and Ireland, cases of clerical sexual abuse of minors have been reported and prosecuted in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other countries. In 1994 allegations of sexual abuse on 47 young seminarians surfaced in Argentina. In 1995 Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër resigned from his post as Archbishop of Vienna, Austria over allegations of sexual abuse, although he remained a Cardinal. Since 1995, over one hundred priests from various parts of Australia were convicted of sexual abuse.][
In Ireland, a report (see Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse) was made covering six decades (from the 1950s) noting "endemic" sexual abuse in Catholic boys' institutions with church leaders aware of what was going on and government inspectors failing to "stop beatings, rapes and humiliation." Police examine sex abuse report: The commission's report on church abuse ran to five volumes Police in the Irish Republic are examining if criminal charges can be brought over a damning report on child sex abuse at Catholic institutions.
In Australia, according to Broken Rites, a support and advocacy group for church-related sex abuse victims, as of 2011[update] there have been over one hundred cases where Catholic priests have been charged for child sex offences. A 2012 police report detailed 40 suicide deaths directly related to abuse by Catholic clergy in the state of Victoria. In January 2013 the terms of reference were announced for an Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which would investigate institutional sexual abuse of minors related, but not exclusive, to matters concerning clergy of the Catholic Church.
Of the Catholic sexual abuse cases in Latin America the most famous is arguably of the sexual scandal of Father Marcial Maciel, the leader of the Legion of Christ, a Roman Catholic congregation of pontifical right made up of priests and seminarians studying for the priesthood. This occurred after the Legion spent more than a decade denying allegations and criticizing the victims who claimed abuse.
In Tanzania, Father Kit Cunningham together with three other priests were exposed as paedophiles after Cunningham's death. The abuse took place in the 1960s but was only publicly revealed in 2011, largely through a BBC documentary.
Church officials and academics knowledgeable about the Third World Roman Catholic Church, say that sexual abuse by clergy is generally not discussed, and thus is difficult to measure. This may be due in part to the more hierarchical structure of the Church in Third World countries, the "psychological health" of clergy in those regions, and because third word media, legal systems and public culture are not as apt to thoroughly discuss sexual abuse. In the Philippines where as of 2002[update] at least 85% of the population is Catholic, the revelations of sexual abuse by priests, including child sexual abuse, followed the United States' reporting in 2002.
Academic Mathew N. Schmalz notes India as an example, "you would have gossip and rumors, but it never reaches the level of formal charges or controversies." Traditionally the Roman Catholic Church has held tight control over many aspects of church life around the globe including "the words used in prayer," but left sex abuse cases to be handled locally. In 2001 sex abuse cases were first required to be reported to Rome.
In A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse by Thomas Plante, a psychiatrist specializing in abuse counseling and considered an expert on clerical abuse, he states "approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor." According to Newsweek magazine, the figure is similar to that in the rest of the adult population.
Allegations of and convictions for sexual abuse by clergy have been subjects of public debate in many countries. Although there are no figures available on the number of sexual abuse cases in different regions, in 2002, The Boston Globe reported "clearly the issue has been most prominent in the United States." The United States is the country with the highest number of Catholic Sex Abuse cases, leading Thomas Plante to surmise that the "crisis in the United States reached epidemic proportions within the Church, the likes of which haven't been witnessed before."][
After the United States, the country with the next highest number of reported cases is Ireland. A significant number of cases have also been reported in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. In 2004, the John Jay report tabulated a total of 4,392 priests and deacons in the U.S. against whom allegations of sexual abuse had been made.
In response to the attention, members of the church hierarchy have argued that media coverage has been excessive and disproportionate.][ According to a Pew Research Center study, in 2002 the media coverage was focused on the US, where a Boston Globe series initiated widespread coverage in the region. However, by 2010 the focus had shifted to Europe.
In 2001, sex abuse cases were first required to be reported to Rome. In July 2010, the Vatican doubled the length of time after the 18th birthday of the victim that clergymen can be tried in a church court and streamlined the processes for removing "pedophile priests."
In September 2011, a submission was lodged with the International Criminal Court alleging that the Pope, Cardinal Angelo Sodano dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone Vatican Secretary of State and Cardinal William Levada head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, had committed a crime against humanity by failing to prevent or punish perpetrators of rape and sexual violence in a "systematic and widespread" concealment which included failure to co-operate with relevant law enforcement agencies. In a statement to the Associated Press, the Vatican described this as a "ludicrous publicity stunt and a misuse of international judicial processes." Lawyers and law professors emphasised that the case is likely to fall outside the court's jurisdiction.
Child sexual abuse is an umbrella term describing offenses in which an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor or exploits a minor for the purpose of sexual gratification. The American Psychiatric Association states that "children cannot consent to sexual activity with adults," and condemns any such action by an adult as "a criminal and immoral act which never can be considered normal or socially acceptable behavior." Only at the beginning of the 1900s did Western society begin to regard children as fledgling citizens whose "creative and intellectual potential require fostering" rather than "cheap labor." According to The Atlantic "the idea of the 'modern child' was shaped by the same forces that shaped the rest of society: industrialization, urbanization, and consumerism."
Child sex abuse has gained public attention in the past few decades and has become one of the most high-profile crimes. Since the 1970s the sexual abuse of children and child molestation has increasingly been recognized as deeply damaging to children and thus unacceptable for society as a whole. While sexual use of children by adults has been present throughout history, it has only become the object of significant public attention in recent times. The first published work dedicated specifically to child sexual abuse appeared in France in 1857: Medical-Legal Studies of Sexual Assault (Etude Médico-Légale sur les Attentats aux Mœurs), by Auguste Ambroise Tardieu, a noted French pathologist and pioneer of forensic medicine.
In the 1950s, Gerald Fitzgerald, "the founder of a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children concluded "(such) offenders were unlikely to change and should not be returned to ministry," and this was discussed with Pope Paul VI (1897 – 1978) and "in correspondence with several bishops." In 2001, sex abuse cases were first required to be reported to Rome. The Dallas Morning News did a year-long investigation, after the 2002 revelation that cases of abuse were widespread in the Church. The results made public in 2004 showed that even after the public outcry, priests were moved out of the countries where they had been accused and were still in "settings that bring them into contact with children, despite church claims to the contrary." Among the investigation's findings is that nearly half of 200 cases "involved clergy who tried to elude law enforcement." In July 2010, the Vatican doubled the length of time after the 18th birthday of the victim that clergymen can be tried in a church court and streamlined the processes for removing "pedophile priests."
The cases received significant media and public attention in Canada, Ireland, and the United States, and throughout the world.
In response to the attention, members of the church hierarchy have argued that media coverage has been excessive and disproportionate. According to a Pew Research Center study, media coverage mostly emanated from the United States in 2002, when a Boston Globe series began a critical mass of news reports; by contrast, in 2010 much of the reporting focused on child abuse in Europe.
Child sexual abuse became a public issue in the 1970s and 1980s. Prior to this point in time sexual abuse remained rather secretive and socially unspeakable. Studies on child molestation were nonexistent until the 1920s and the first national estimate of the number of child sexual abuse cases was published in 1948. By 1968, 44 out of 50 U.S. states had enacted mandatory laws that required physicians to report cases of suspicious child abuse. Second wave feminism (early 1960s to late 1990s) brought greater awareness of child sexual abuse and violence against women, and made them public, political issues.
Legal action began to become more prevalent in the 1970s with the enactment of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in 1974 in conjunction with the creation of the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect. Since the creation of the Child Abuse and Treatment Act, reported child abuse cases have increased dramatically. The National Abuse Coalition was created in 1979 to create pressure in congress to create more sexual abuse laws. In 1986, Congress passed the Child Abuse Victims' Rights Act, giving children a civil claim in sexual abuse cases. The number of laws created in the 1980s and 1990s began to create greater prosecution and detection of child sexual abusers. Megan's Law which was enacted in 2004 gives the public access to knowledge of sex offenders nationwide. Anne Hastings described these changes in attitudes towards child sexual abuse as "the beginning of one of history's largest social revolutions."
According to John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor B.J. Cling,
"By the early 21st century, the issue of child sexual abuse has become a legitimate focus of professional attention, while increasingly separated from second wave feminism...As child sexual abuse becomes absorbed into the larger field of interpersonal trauma studies, child sexual abuse studies and intervention strategies have become degendered and largely unaware of their political origins in modern feminism and other vibrant political movements of the 1970s. One may hope that unlike in the past, this rediscovery of child sexual abuse that began in the 70s will not again be followed by collective amnesia. The institutionalization of child maltreatment interventions in federally funded centers, national and international societies, and a host of research studies (in which the United States continues to lead the world) offers grounds for cautious optimism. Nevertheless, as Judith Herman argues cogently, 'The systematic study of psychological trauma...depends on the support of a political movement.'"
In many jurisdictions growing awareness of child sexual abuse has sparked an increasing number of civil lawsuits for monetary damages stemming from such incidents. Increased awareness of child sexual abuse has encouraged more victims to come forward, whereas in the past victims often kept their abuse secret. Some states have enacted specific laws lengthening the applicable statutes of limitations so as to allow victims of child sexual abuse to file suit sometimes years after they have reached the age of majority. Such lawsuits can be brought where a person or entity, such as a school, church or youth organization, was charged with supervising the child but failed to do so with child sexual abuse resulting. As lawsuits can involve demanding procedures there is a concern that children or adults who file suit will be re-victimized by defendants through the legal process, much as rape victims can be re-victimized by the accused in criminal rape trials. Child sexual abuse plaintiffs' attorney Thomas A. Cifarelli has written that children involved in the legal system, particularly victims of sexual abuse and molestation, should be afforded certain procedural safeguards to protect them from harassment during the legal process.
In the United States the 2004 John Jay Report commissioned and funded by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was based on volunteer surveys completed by the Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States. The 2004 John Jay Report was based on a study of 10,667 allegations against 4,392 priests accused of engaging in sexual abuse of a minor between 1950 and 2002.
The surveys filtered provided information from diocesan files on each priest accused of sexual abuse and on each of the priest's victims to the research team, in a format which did not disclose the names of the accused priests or the dioceses where they worked. The dioceses were encouraged to issue reports of their own based on the surveys that they had completed.
The report stated there were approximately 10,667 reported victims (younger than 18 years) of clergy sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002:
The 4,392 priests who were accused amount to approximately 4% of the 109,694 priests in active ministry during that time. Of these 4,392, approximately:
Many of the reported acts of sexual abuse involved fondling or unspecified abuse. There was also a number of allegations of forced acts of oral sex and intercourse. Detailed information on the nature of the abuse was not reported for 26.6% of the reported allegations. 27.3% of the allegations involved the cleric performing oral sex on the victim. 25.1% of the allegations involved penile penetration or attempted penetration.
Although there were reported acts of sexual abuse of minors in every year, the incidence of reported abuse increased by several orders of magnitude in the 1960s and 1970s. There was, for example, a more than sixfold increase in the number of reported acts of abuse of males aged 11 to 17 between the 1950s and the 1970s. After peaking in the 1970s, the number of incidents in the report decreased through the 1980s and 1990s even more sharply than the incidence rate had increased in the 1960s and 1970s.
Although bishops had been sending sexually abusive priests to facilities such as those operated by the Servants of the Paraclete since the 1950s, there was scant public discussion of the problem until the mid-1960s. Even then, most of the discussion was held amongst the Catholic hierarchy with little or no coverage in the media. A public discussion of sexual abuse of minors by priests took place at a meeting sponsored by the National Association for Pastoral Renewal held on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in 1967, to which all U.S. Catholic bishops were invited.
Various local and regional discussions of the problem were held by Catholic bishops in later years. However, it was not until the 1980s that discussion of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clerics began to be covered as a phenomenon in the news media of the United States. According to the Catholic News Service public awareness of the sexual abuse of children in the United States and Canada emerged in the late 1970s and the 1980s as an outgrowth of the growing awareness of physical abuse of children.
In 1981 Father Donald Roemer of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles pleaded guilty to felonious sexual abuse of a minor. The case received widespread media coverage. In September 1983, the National Catholic Reporter published an article on the topic. The subject gained wider national notoriety in October 1985 when Louisiana priest Gilbert Gauthe pleaded guilty to 11 counts of molestation of boys. After the coverage of Gauthe's crimes subsided, the issue faded to the fringes of public attention until the mid-1990s, when the issue was again brought to national attention after a number of books on the topic were published.
In early 2002 the Boston Globes Pulitzer Prize winning coverage of sexual abuse cases involving Catholic priests drew the attention, first of the United States and ultimately the world, to the problem. Other victims began to come forward with their own allegations of abuse, resulting in more lawsuits and criminal cases. Since then, the problem of clerical abuse of minors has received significantly more attention from the Church hierarchy, law enforcement agencies, government and the news media.
In 2003, then Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests to convince them to leave the priesthood.
Bishop-Accountability.org, an "online archive established by lay Catholics," reports that over 3,000 "civil lawsuits have been filed against the church" in the United States. Some of these cases involved many claimants and resulted in multi-million dollar settlements.
Starting in the 1990s a series of criminal cases and Irish government enquiries covered allegations that priests had abused hundreds of minors over previous decades. State-ordered investigations documented "tens of thousands of children from the 1940s to the 1990s" who suffered abuse including sexual abuse at the hands of priests, nuns and church staff in three diocese.
In many cases the abusing priests had been moved by senior clergy to other parishes. By 2010 a number of in-depth judicial reports had been published, but with relatively few prosecutions. The abuse was occasionally made known to staff at the Department of Education, the police and other government bodies, who have said that prosecuting clergy was extremely difficult given the "Catholic ethos" of the Irish Republic.
In 1994 Micheal Ledwith resigned as President of St Patrick's College, Maynooth when allegations of sexual abuse were made public. The June 2005 McCullough Report found that a number of bishops had rejected concerns about Ledwith's inappropriate behavior towards seminarians "so completely and so abruptly without any adequate investigation" although his report conceded that "to investigate in any very full or substantial manner, a generic complaint regarding a person's apparent propensities would have been difficult".
One of the most notorious cases of sex abuse in Ireland involved Brendan Smyth, who, between 1945 and 1989, sexually abused and indecently assaulted 20 children in parishes in Belfast, Dublin and the United States. Controversy over the handling of his extradition to Northern Ireland led to the 1994 collapse of the Fianna Fáil/Labour coalition government.
In the late 1980s allegations were made of physical and sexual abuse committed by members of the Christian Brothers, who operated the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's, Newfoundland. The government, police and church colluded in an unsuccessful attempt to cover up the allegations, but in December 1989 they were publicized in the St. John's Sunday Express. Eventually more than 300 former pupils came forward with allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the orphanage. The religious order that ran the orphanage filed for bankruptcy in the face of numerous lawsuits. Since the Mount Cashel scandal a number of priests across Canada have been accused of sexual abuse.
In August 2006, Father Charles Henry Sylvestre of Belle River, Ontario pled guilty to 47 counts of sexual abuse on females, aged between nine and fourteen years old between 1952 and 1989. Sylvestre was given a sentence in October 2006 of three years, and died January 22, 2007 after three months in prison.
In June 2010, Belgian police raided the Belgian Catholic Church headquarters in Brussels, seizing a computer and records of a Church commission investigating allegations of child abuse, as part of an investigation into hundreds of claims that had been raised about alleged child sexual abuse committed by Belgian clergy. The claims emerged after Roger Vangheluwe, who had been the Bishop of Bruges, resigned after admitting that he was guilty of sexual molestation. The Vatican protested against the raids. In September 2010 an appeals court ruled that the raids were illegal.
In April 2010 it was reported that former bishop of the Norwegian Catholic Church, Georg Müller, had confessed to the Norwegian Police in early January 2010 that he had sexually abused an underaged altar boy 20 years earlier. The Norwegian Catholic Church was made aware of the incident but did not alert the authorities. Müller was made to step down as a bishop in July 2009.
In November 2010, an independent group in Austria that operates a hotline to help people exit the Catholic Church released a report documenting physical, sexual, and emotional abuse perpetrated by Austrian priests, nuns, and other religious officials. The report is based on hotline calls from 325 victims - 91 women (28%) and 234 men (72%), who named 422 perpetrators of both genders - 63% of whom were ordained priests.][
In 2012 an Australian police report in the Victoria state jurisdiction detailed 40 suicide deaths by people who had been abused by Catholic clergy. The Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry on the issue recommended that some of the church's actions to hinder investigations be criminalized. In one diocese a dedicated clergy abuse police strike force (Strike Force Lantle) has laid more than 170 abuse charges. On 13 November 2012 the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference welcomed and promised cooperation with a Royal Commission, announced by Prime Minister Gillard, to broadly investigate child sexual abuse in institutions across Australia.
The Associated Press estimated the settlements of sex abuse cases from 1950 to 2007 totaled more than $2 billion. BishopAccountability puts the figure at more than $3 billion in 2012.
BishopAccountability.org, an "online archive established by lay Catholics," reports that over 3,000 "civil lawsuits have been filed against the church" in the United States, some of these cases have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements with many claimants.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas paid $30.9 million in 1998 to twelve victims of one priest. In July 2003 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville paid $25.7 million to "settle child sexual-abuse allegations made in 240 lawsuits naming 34 priests and other church workers."
In 2003 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston also settled a large case for $85 million with 552 alleged victims.
In 2004, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange settled nearly 90 cases for $100 million.
In April 2007 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon agreed to a $75 million settlement with 177 claimants and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle agreed to a $48 million settlement with more than 160 victims.
In July 2007 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles reached a $660 million agreement with more than 500 alleged victims, in December 2006, the archdiocese had a settlement of 45 lawsuits for $60 million.
In September 2007 the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego reached a $198.1 million "agreement with 144 childhood sexual abuse victims."
In July 2008 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver agreed "to pay $5.5 million to settle 18 claims of childhood sexual abuse." The Associated Press estimated the total from settlements of sex abuse cases from 1950-2007 to be more than $2 billion. According to BishopAccountability reports that figure reached more than $3 billion in 2012.
Most sex abuse cases are subject to the law of each state. As of April 2010 many sex abusers associated with the Church in several countries have been tried by secular authorities and some convicted and sentenced to imprisonment.
Addressing "a flood of abuse claims" five dioceses (Tucson, Arizona; Spokane, Washington; Portland, Oregon.; Davenport, Iowa, and San Diego) got bankruptcy protection. Eight Catholic diocese have declared bankruptcy due to sex abuse cases from 2004-2011.
According to Donald Cozzens, "by the end of the mid 1990s, it was estimated that [...] more than half a billion dollars had been paid in jury awards, settlements and legal fees." This figure grew to about one billion dollars by 2002. Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007.
As of March 2006, dioceses in which abuse was committed or in which abuse allegations were settled out of court had made financial settlements with the victims totaling over $1.5 billion. The number and size of these settlements made it necessary for the dioceses to reduce their ordinary operating expenses by closing churches and schools in order to raise the funds to make these payments. Several dioceses chose to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a way to litigate settlements while protecting some church assets to ensure it continues to operate.
By 2009, U.S. dioceses have paid more than US$2.6 billion in abuse-related costs since 1950.
In many instances, dioceses were forced to declare bankruptcy as a result of the settlements. At least six U.S. dioceses sought bankruptcy protection. In some cases, the dioceses filed bankruptcy just before civil suits against them were about to go to trial. This had the effect of mandating that pending and future lawsuits be settled in bankruptcy court. The sexual abuse scandal costs each of the 195 diocese "an average of $300,000 annually."
Many of the accused priests were forced to resign. Some priests whose crimes fell within statutes of limitation are in jail. Some have been defrocked. Others — because they are elderly, because of the nature of their offenses, or because they have had some success fighting the charges — cannot be defrocked under canon law. Some priests live in retreat houses that are carefully monitored and sometimes locked.
Bernard Francis Law, Cardinal and Archbishop of Boston, Massachusetts, United States resigned after Church documents were revealed which suggested he had covered up sexual abuse committed by priests in his archdiocese. On December 13, 2002 Pope John Paul II accepted Law's resignation as Archbishop and reassigned him to an administrative position in the Roman Curia naming him archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and he later presided at one of the Pope's funeral masses. Law's successor in Boston, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Seán P. O'Malley found it necessary to sell substantial real estate properties and close a number of churches in order to pay the $120 million in claims against the archdiocese.
Two bishops of Palm Beach, Florida resigned due to child abuse allegations. Resigned bishop Joseph Keith Symons was replaced by Anthony O'Connell, who later also resigned in 2002.
According to The Economist and the Sydney Morning Herald, many Catholics are leaving the church in Germany due to the sex abuse scandal. The number leaving in one month increased by a factor of four, to 472, in the Munich diocese since the start of 2010. Additionally, the Germans' trust of the Pope dropped significantly; in January 2010, 62% of Catholic Germans trusted the Pope, but by the end of March 2010, only 39% did. Norbert Denef founded Netzwerk Betroffener von Sexualisierter Gewalt, briefly netzwerkB, in April 2010. Denef was abused as a child by Catholic clerics.
In an address before the Irish parliament on May 11, 1999, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced a comprehensive program to respond to the scandal of abuse in the nation's Catholic-run childcare institutions. Ahern's speech included the first official apology to those who had been abused physically and sexually while they had been in the care of these institutions. The Taoiseach asked the abuse victims for forgiveness, saying: "On behalf of the State and of all citizens of the State, the Government wishes to make a sincere and long overdue apology to the victims of childhood abuse for our collective failure to intervene, to detect their pain, to come to their rescue."
In response to the furor aroused by the media reports of abuse in Irish government institutions run by religious orders, the Irish government commissioned a study which took nine years to complete. On May 20, 2009, the commission released its 2600 page report, which drew on testimony from thousands of former inmates and officials from more than 250 institutions. The commission found that there were thousands of allegations of physical abuse of children of both sexes over a period of six decades. Over the same period there were also around 370 allegations of children who had suffered various forms of sexual abuse from religious and others. The report also revealed that government inspectors had failed in their responsibility to detect and stop the abuse. The report characterized sexual molestation as "endemic" in some church-run industrial schools and orphanages for boys.
In the wake of the broadcast of a BBC Television documentary "Suing the Pope", which highlighted the case of Seán Fortune, one of the most notorious clerical sexual offenders, the Irish government initiated an official inquiry into the allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the Irish Roman Catholic Diocese of Ferns. . The inquiry resulted in the publication of the Ferns Report in 2005.
In response to the Ferns Report, Ireland's Prime Minister Brian Cowen stated that he was "ashamed by the extent, length, and cruelty" of child abuse, apologized to victims for the government's failure to intervene in endemic sexual abuse and severe beatings in schools for much of the 20th century. Cowen also promised to reform the Ireland's social services for children in line with the recommendations of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse report. Irish President Mary McAleese and Cowen made further motions to start criminal investigation against members of Roman Catholic religious orders in Ireland.
In November 2009, Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse reported its findings in which it concluded that:
In 2009, The Murphy Report is the result of a three-year public inquiry conducted by Irish government into the Sexual abuse scandal in Dublin archdiocese, released a few months after the report of the Ryan report. The Murphy report stated that, "The Commission has no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities". It found that, "The structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated that cover-up." Moreover, the report asserted that, "State authorities facilitated that cover-up by not fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that the law was applied equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes." The report criticized four archbishops – John Charles McQuaid who died in 1973, Dermot Ryan who died in 1984, Kevin McNamara who died in 1987, and retired Cardinal Desmond Connell – for not handing over information on abusers to legal authorities.
The responses of the Catholic Church to the sex abuse cases can be viewed on three levels: the diocesan level, the episcopal conference level, and the Vatican. Responses to the scandal proceeded at levels in parallel, with the higher levels becoming progressively more involved as the gravity of the problem became more apparent. For the most part, responding to allegations of sexual abuse in a diocese was left to the jurisdiction of the local bishop or archbishop. According to Thomas Plante, a psychiatrist specializing in abuse counseling and considered an expert on clerical abuse, "unlike most large organizations that maintain a variety of middle management positions, the organizational structure of the Catholic Church is a fairly flat structure. Therefore, prior to the Church clergy abuse crisis in 2002, each bishop decided for himself how to manage these cases and the allegations of child sexual abuse by priests. Some have handled these matters very poorly (as evidenced in Boston) while others have handled these issues very well."
After the number of allegations exploded following the Boston Globe's series of articles, the breadth and depth of the scandals became apparent in dioceses across the United States. The U.S. bishops felt compelled to formulate a coordinated response at the episcopal conference level. Although the Vatican did not respond immediately to the series of articles published by the Boston Globe in 2002, it has been reported that Vatican officials were, in fact, monitoring the situation in the U.S. closely.
John L. Allen, Jr., senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, characterized the reaction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as calling for "swift, sure and final punishment for priests who are guilty of this kind of misconduct." In contrast to this, Allen characterized the Vatican's primary concern as wanting to make sure "that everyone's rights are respected, including the rights of accused clergy" and wanting to affirm that it is not acceptable to "remedy the injustice of sexual abuse with the injustice of railroading priests who may or may not be guilty."
According to the John Jay Report one in four child sex abuse allegations were made within 10 years of the incident. Half were made between 10 and 30 years after the incident and the remaining 25% were reported more than 30 years after the incident.
Since 2002, a major focus of the lawsuits and media attention has been criticism of the approach taken by bishops when dealing with allegations of sexual abuse by priests. As a general rule, the allegations were not reported to legal authority for investigation and prosecution. Instead, many dioceses directed the offending priests to seek psychiatric treatment and for assessment of the risk of re-offending. In 2004, according to the John Jay report, nearly 40% of accused priests participated in psychiatric treatment programs. The remaining priests did not undergo abuse counseling because allegations of sexual abuse were only made after their death. The more allegations made against a priest, the more likely he was to participate in treatment.
Some bishops repeatedly moved offending priests from parish to parish after abuse counseling, where they still had personal contact with children. In response to these allegations, defenders of the Church's actions have suggested that in re-assigning priests after treatment, bishops were acting on the best medical advice then available.][ According to the USCCB, Catholic bishops in the 1950s and 1960s viewed sexual abuse by priests as "a spiritual problem, one requiring a spiritual solution, i.e. prayer".
However, starting in the 1960s, the bishops came to adopt an emerging view based on the advice of medical personnel who recommended psychiatric and psychological treatment for those who sexually abused minors. This view asserted that with treatment priests who had molested children could safely be placed back into ministry, although perhaps with certain restrictions such as not being in contact with children. This approach viewed pedophilia as an addiction, such as alcoholism which can be treated and restrained.
Some of the North American treatment facilities most frequently used for this purpose included the Saint Luke Institute in Maryland; centers operated by the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, and St. Louis, Missouri; John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.; the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut; and the Southdown Institute near Toronto, Ontario in Canada. This approach continued into the mid-1980s, a period which the USCCB characterizes as the "tipping point in the understanding of the problem within the church and in society". According to researcher Paul Isley, however, research on priest offenders is virtually nonexistent and the claims of unprecedented treatment success with clergy offenders have not been supported by published data.
The USCCB perceived a lack of adequate procedures for the prevention of sexual abuse of minors, the reporting of allegations of such abuse and the handling of those reports. In response to deficiencies in canonical and secular law, both ecclesiastical and civil authorities have implemented procedures and laws to prevent sexual abuse of minors by clergy and to report and punish it if and when it occurs. In June 2002, the USCCB adopted a zero tolerance for responding to allegations of sexual abuse. It promulgated a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that pledged the Catholic Church in the U.S. to providing a "safe environment" for all children in Church-sponsored activities.
The Charter instituted reforms to prevent future abuse by requiring background checks for Church employees. The Charter requires dioceses faced with an allegation to alert the authorities, conduct an investigation and remove the accused from duty. A Dallas Morning News article reported nearly two-thirds of the bishops attending the conference had covered for sexually abusive priests. According to Catholic News Service by 2008, the U.S. church had trained "5.8 million children to recognize and report abuse," run criminal checks on volunteers and employees and trained them to create a safe environment for children.
A 2006 study by Jesuit Georgetown University Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) found lay Catholics were unaware of the specific steps that the church has decided to take, but 78% strongly approved reporting allegations of sexual abuse to civil authorities and 76% strongly approved of removing people credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.
In 2005, Kathleen McChesney of the USCCB said "In 2004, at least 1,092 allegations of sexual abuse were made against at least 756 Catholic priests and deacons in the United States. [ ... ] What is over is the denial that this problem exists, and what is over is the reluctance of the Church to deal openly with the public about the nature and extent of the problem."
In early 2009, the sexual impropriety including molesting boys by Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legion of Christ, a Roman Catholic congregation of pontifical right made up of priests and seminarians studying for the priesthood, was disclosed publicly. In March, the Vatican ordered an apostolic visitation of the sexual abuse scandal in the Legion of Christ. In June 2009 Vatican authorities named five bishops from five different countries, each one in charge of investigating the Legionaries in a particular part of the world.
In June 2001, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Ireland established the Catholic Church Commission on Child Sexual Abuse (Ireland), also known as the Hussey Commission, to investigate how complaints about clerical abuse of minors have been handled over the last three decades.
In February 2002, 18 religious orders agreed to provide more than 128 million Euros (approximately $128 million) in compensation to the victims of childhood abuse. Most of the money was raised from church property transfers to the State; in fact the actual value of the settlement is estimated to be about half that, and the Archbisop of Dublin in 2009 accused the orders of falling short even on the amount promised, and said the church's failure to complete transfers of cash, property and land worth at least €128 million over the past seven years "is stunning".
The agreement also stipulated that any victims who accepted monetary settlements would waive their right to sue both the church and the government, and that the identities of the accused abusers was to be kept secret. In 2009 the orders agreed to increase their contribution; it was learned that total compensation paid to victims was about €1.2 billion, so that until then the promised €128 m had been about 10% of the total.
In September 2010 the Vatican announced that it would shortly begin an investigation into how the Irish Catholic Establishment's handling of the sex abuse and subsequent scandal. This enquiry will include consulting groups representing victims. Co founder of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (Soca), stated that "Irish Soca and other survivors' groups are excited over the apostolic visitation because it's the end of allowing the Irish hierarchy to handle the scandal and crises on their own."
When sexual scandals involving Catholic priests in the US came to light in 2002, the Philippines media began reporting on abuses by local priests. In July of that year, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines apologized for sexual misconduct committed by its priests over the last two decades and committed to drafting guidelines on how to deal with allegations of such offenses. According to Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference, about 200 of the country's 7,000 priests may have committed "sexual misconduct" – including child abuse, homosexuality and affairs – over the past two decades.
In August 2011, activist women's group Gabriela assisted a 17-year old girl in filing sexual abuse allegations against a priest in Butuan province. The bishop of Butuan, Juan de Dios Pueblos, took the priest under his custody without handing him over to civil and church authorities. This behaviour was also heavily criticized by retired Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, who blamed Pueblos for showing his priests the "wrong way".
In June 2002, the USCCB established the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People", a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The charter includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. It also directs action in the following matters:
In other words, the US National Review Board now requires dioceses faced with an allegation to alert the authorities, conduct an investigation and remove the accused from duty.
The Board also approached John Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct a descriptive study of the nature and scope of the problem of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The College assembled an experienced team of researchers with expertise in the areas of forensic psychology, criminology, and human behavior, and, working with the Board, formulated a methodology to address the study mandate. Data collection commenced in March 2003, and ended in February 2004.
The 2001 Lord Nolan recommendations, accepted in full by the bishops, became model guidelines for other bishops' conferences around the world, and a model for other institutions in Britain. One guideline was that in each parish there should be a "safeguarding officer", a lay person who would vet—through an organization called the Criminal Records Bureau—anyone in the parish who had access to young people or vulnerable adults, and would be a contact for anyone with any concerns.
John L. Allen, Jr., Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, has commented that many American Catholics saw the Vatican's initial silence on the Boston Globe stories as showing a lack of concern or awareness about the issue. However, Allen said that he doesn't know anyone in the Roman Curia, who was not at least horrified "by the revelations that came out of the Globe and elsewhere" or who would defend "Cardinal Law's handling of the cases in Boston" or "the rather shocking lack of oversight that revealed itself" though "they might have different analyses of what should have happened to him". Allen described the Vatican's perspective as being somewhat skeptical of the media handling of the scandal. In addition, he asserted that the Vatican viewed American cultural attitudes toward sexuality as being somewhat hysterical as well as exhibiting a lack of understanding of the Catholic Church.
According to Allen, cultural differences between the Vatican and American Catholics complicated the process of formulating a comprehensive response to the sexual abuse scandal: "there is a lot about the American culture and the American Church that puzzles people in the Vatican, and there is much about the Vatican that puzzles Americans and English speakers generally."
Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, sent a letter which became known as the Crimen sollicitationis. In this letter, addressed to "all Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries, including those of Eastern Rite", the Holy Office laid down procedures to be followed in dealing with cases of clerics (priests or bishops) of the Catholic Church accused of having used the sacrament of Penance to make sexual advances to penitents; its rules were more specific than the generic ones in the Code of Canon Law.
In addition, it instructed that the same procedures be used when dealing with denunciations of homosexual, paedophile or zoophile behaviour by clerics. It repeated the rule that any Catholic who failed for over a month to denounce a priest who had made such advances in connection with confession was automatically excommunicated and could be absolved only after actually denouncing the priest to the Ordinary of the place or to the Holy Congregation of the Holy Office, or at least promising seriously to do so.
The Vatican promulgated a revised Code of Canon Law which included a canon (1395,§2) which explicitly named sex with a minor by clerics as a canonical crime "to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants." According to De delictis gravioribus, the letter sent in May 2001 by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) - Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and according to Father Thomas Patrick Doyle, who has served as an expert witness on Pontifical Canon Law, Crimen Sollicitationis was in force until May 2001.
In April, Pope John Paul II issued a letter stating that "a sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue by a cleric with a minor under 18 years of age is to be considered a grave sin, or 'delictum gravius.'" In the letter, Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (Safeguarding the Sanctity of the Sacraments), "§1 Reservation to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is also extended to a delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years. §2 One who has perpetrated the delict mentioned in §1 is to be punished according to the gravity of the offense, not excluding dismissal or deposition." In other words, the CDF was given a broader mandate to address the sex abuse cases only from 2001 – prior to that date, the 1917 Code of Canon Law permitted sexual abuse cases by the clergy to be handled by the Congregation, for the Congregation to open cases itself, or for the Ordinary to handle judgement. All priestly sex crimes cases were placed under the CDF which, in the majority of cases, then recommended immediate action.
The "Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations" explain briefly the procedures which have been derived from the 1983 Code of Canon Law and put in place since April 30 (the same day). Among the points made:
In May, in line with the 1983 Code of Canon Law and the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, a letter from the CDF was sent to the Catholic bishops.
The Vatican instituted reforms to prevent future United States abuse by requiring background checks for all church employees who have contact with children. Since then, in the USA alone, over 2 million volunteers and employees; 52,000 clerics; 6,205 candidates for ordination have had their backgrounds evaluated.
In June, the USCCB established the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People", a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. (More details in the Episcopal Responses section above.)
Pope John Paul II stated that "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young".
In April, the Pontifical Academy for Life organized a three-day conference, entitled "Abuse of Children and Young People by Catholic Priests and Religious", where eight non-Catholic psychiatric experts were invited to speak to near all Vatican dicasteries' representatives. The panel of experts overwhelmingly opposed implementation of policies of "zero-tolerance" such as was proposed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. One expert called such policies a "case of overkill" since they do not permit flexibility to allow for differences among individual cases.
In June, a Louisville, Kentucky lawyer William McMurry filed suit against the Vatican on behalf of three men alleging abuse as far back as 1928, accusing Church leaders of organizing a cover up of cases of sexual abuse of children.
In August Pope Benedict was personally accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to cover up the molestation of three boys in Texas by Juan Carlos Patino-Arango in Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. He sought and obtained immunity from prosecution as head of state of the Holy See. Some have claimed that this immunity was granted after intervention by then US President George W. Bush. The Department of State "recognize[d] and allow[ed] the immunity of Pope Benedict XVI from this suit." See pope#International position for information on head-of-state immunity of a pope.
In November the Vatican published Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation for Persons with Homosexual Tendencies, issuing new rules which forbid ordination of men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies." While the preparation for this document had started ten years before its publication, this instruction is seen as an official answer by the Catholic Church to what was seen as a "pedophile priest" crisis. The US National Review Board cited the preponderance of adolescent males among the victims of clerical sexual abuse of minors in its report. The document was criticized for what some see as its implying that homosexuality is tied to the sexual abuse of children.
Archbishop Csaba Ternyak, secretary of the Congregation for Clergy, put the following question to the experts: "[T]o what degree one can talk about the rehabilitation of the offender, what are the most effective methods of treatment, and on what grounds we can say that a person who has never offended is at risk to sexually molest someone?"
Ternyak spoke about the way that the crisis had damaged the priest-bishop relationship. He noted that there was a "sense of gloom" felt by the overwhelming majority of priests who had not been accused of any abuse but nonetheless who perceived that their bishops had turned against them and therefore had "become disillusioned about the effectiveness of the laws of the Church to defend their dignity and their inalienable rights". Ternyak also noted that "there have been more than a few suicides among accused priests."
In April, during a visit to the United States, Pope Benedict admitted that he was "deeply ashamed" of the clergy sex abuse scandal that has devastated the American church. Benedict pledged that pedophiles would not be priests in the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict also said he is ashamed for child abuse scandal in Australia.][
In November the United States Court of Appeals in Cincinnati denied the Vatican's claim of sovereign immunity and allowed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church government by three men who claim they were sexually abused as children by priests in the Louisville, Ky., USA archdiocese to proceed. The Vatican did not appeal the ruling.
Two researchers reported that abuse cases had "steeply declined" after 1985 and that responses to abuse had changed substantially over 50 years, with suspension becoming more common than reinstatement.
In a statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 22 September 2009, the Holy See stated that the majority of Catholic clergy who had committed acts of sexual abuse against under 18 year olds should not be viewed as paedophiles, but as homosexuals who are attracted to sex with adolescent males. The statement said that rather than paedophilia, "it would be more correct to speak of ephebophilia; being a homosexual attraction to adolescent males[...] Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17."
However, Margaret Smith and Karen Terry, two researchers who worked on the John Jay Report, cautioned against equating the high incidence of abuse by priests against boys with homosexuality, calling it an oversimplification and “an unwarranted conclusion” to assert that the majority of priests who abused male victims are gay. Though “the majority of the abusive acts were homosexual in nature [...] participation in homosexual acts is not the same as sexual identity as a gay man.” She further stated that "the idea of sexual identity [should] be separated from the problem of sexual abuse...[A]t this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now.” Tomasi's move angered many gay rights organisations, who claimed it was an attempt by the Vatican to redefine the Church's past problems with paedophilia as problems with homosexuality.
The empirical research shows that sexual orientation does not affect the likelihood that people will abuse children. Many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children.
In April 2010, in response to extensive negative publicity and criticism of the Pope, the Vatican entered what the Associated Press called "full damage control mode". Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, during a visit to Chile, linked the scandal to homosexuality. In response to widespread criticism of that statement, Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi said Bertone's statement went outside the remit of church authorities while maintaining that "the statement was aimed at 'clarifying' Cardinal Bertone's remarks and should not be seen as the Holy See 'distancing' itself from them." He also noted that 10 per cent of the cases concerned paedophilia in the "strict sense" and the other 90 per cent concerned sex between priests and adolescents. Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's official newspaper, said the continuing criticism of Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican in handling the clerical sex abuse crisis is part of a media campaign to sell newspapers. The Pope issued a statement that the "Church must do penance for abuse cases".
Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna explained in an interview with the Italian newspaper "Avvenire": "Between 1975 and 1985 I do not believe that any cases of pedophilia committed by priests were brought to the attention of our Congregation. Moreover, following the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, there was a period of uncertainty as to which of the "delicta graviora" were reserved to the competency of this dicastery. Only with the 2001 "Motu Proprio" did the crime of pedophilia again become our exclusive remit... In the years (2001–2010) the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had "considered accusations concerning around three thousand cases of diocesan and religious priests, which refer to crimes committed over the last fifty years."
Pope Benedict issued an apology to those who had suffered from child abuse in Ireland in March, 2010. The letter stated that the Pope was "truly sorry" for what they had suffered, and that "nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity violated." Nevertheless, the letter was not enough to satisfy many critics, who felt that the letter failed to address their concerns, and mistakenly presented the abuse as an issue within the Church in Ireland, rather than acknowledging that it was a systemic problem.
In July 2010 the Vatican issued a document to clarify their position. They doubled the length of time after the 18th birthday of the victim that clergymen can be tried in a church court and to streamline the processes for removing pedophile priests. However the new rules are less strict than those already in place in the United States and lack the clarity that pedophilia is a civil offense of the existing rules there.
In May the Vatican published new guidelines, drawn up by Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, on dealing with the clergy sexual abuse cases. The guidelines tell the bishops and heads of Catholic religious orders worldwide to develop "clear and coordinated" procedures for dealing with the sexual abuse allegation by May 2012. The guidelines instruct the bishops to cooperate with the police and respect the relevant local laws in investigating and reporting allegations of sexual abuse by the clergy to the civic authorities, but do not make such reporting mandatory. The guidelines also reinforce bishops' exclusive authority in dealing with abuse cases. Victims advocacy groups criticized the new guidelines as insufficient, arguing that the recommendations do not have the status of church law and do not provide any specific enforcement mechanisms.
While the Church in the United States claims to have addressed the issue, some disagree. As Mark Honigsbaum from The Guardian put it in 2006, "...despite the National Review Board's own estimates that there have been some 5,000 abusive priests in the US, to date 150 have been successfully prosecuted." Some critics of the Church such as Patrick Wall attribute this to a lack of cooperation from the church. In California, for example, the archdiocese has sought to block the disclosure of confidential counseling records on two priests arguing that such action would violate their First Amendment right on religious protection. Paul Lakeland claims Church leaders who enabled abuse were too frequently careless about their own accountability and the accountability of perpetrators.
In 2010, BBC reported that the latest research by experts indicate that Catholic priests may be no more likely than others to abuse. However, a major cause of the scandal was the cover-ups and other alleged shortcomings in the way the church has dealt with the abuses. Particularly, the actions of Catholic bishops in responding to allegations of clerical abuse came under harsh criticism.
In September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI lamented that the Roman Catholic Church had not been vigilant enough or quick enough in responding to the problem of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy A representative of SNAP, a group representing abuse victims criticized the pope's remarks as "disingenuous" because, in her opinion, the Church had in fact been "prompt and vigilant" in concealing the scandal. After Benedict's resignation in 2013, Benedict was criticised by SNAP for allegedly protecting the Church's reputation "over the safety of children", while representatives from the Center for Constitutional Rights, (at the time engaged in an International Criminal Court case against the Pope in which they were acting for SNAP), alleged that the Pope had been directly involved in covering up some of the crimes. On the other hand, Alexander Stille in The New Yorker described Benedict as being more "vigorous" than Pope John Paul II in responding to the scandal.
The Catholic hierarchy has been criticized for not acting more quickly and decisively to remove, defrock and report priests accused of sexual misconduct. In response to such criticism, contemporary bishops have asserted that the hierarchy was unaware until recent years of the danger in shuffling priests from one parish to another and in concealing the priests' problems from those they served. For example, Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said: "We have said repeatedly that ... our understanding of this problem and the way it's dealt with today evolved, and that in those years ago, decades ago, people didn't realize how serious this was, and so, rather than pulling people out of ministry directly and fully, they were moved."
One early opponent of the treatment of sexually abusive priests was Father Gerald Fitzgerald, the founder of The Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete. Although Fitzgerald started the Servants of the Paraclete to assist priests who were struggling with alcohol and substance abuse problems, he soon began receiving priests who had sexually abused minors. Initially, Fitzgerald attempted to treat such priests using the same spiritual methods that he used with his other "guests". However, as he grew convinced of the futility of treating sexually abusive priests, Fitzgerald came to oppose vehemently the return of sexual abusers to duties as parish priests. He wrote regularly to bishops in the United States and to Vatican officials, including the pope, of his opinion that many sexual abusers in the priesthood could not be cured and should be defrocked immediately.
Eventually, Fitzgerald lost control of the Servants of the Paraclete. The center began to employ medical and psychological professionals who added psychiatry and medical treatment to the spiritual regimen of treatment favored by Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald continued to oppose these modifications to his treatment regimen until his death in 1969.
Bishop Manuel D. Moreno of Tucson, Arizona, USA repeatedly attempted to have two local abusive priests defrocked and disciplined, pleading unsuccessfully in a letter of April 1997 with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to have one of them, who was first suspended in 1990 and convicted by the church in 1997 of five crimes including sexual solicitation in the confessional, defrocked. The two were finally defrocked in 2004. Bishop Moreno had been heavily criticized for failing to take action until details of his efforts became public.
In a New York Times article, Bishop Blase J. Cupich, chairman of the United States Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, is quoted explaining why Father Fitzgerald's advice "went largely unheeded for 50 years": First, "cases of sexually abusive priests were considered to be rare." Second, Father Fitzgerald's, "views, by and large, were considered bizarre with regard to not treating people medically, but only spiritually, and also segregating a whole population with sexual problems on a deserted island." And finally, "There was mounting evidence in the world of psychology that indicated that when medical treatment is given, these people can, in fact, go back to ministry." This was a view which Cupich characterized as one that "the bishops came to regret."
In 2010 several secular and liberal Catholics were calling for Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, citing the actions of then Cardinal Ratzinger's blocking of efforts to remove a priest convicted of child abuse.
In 2012, Monsignor William Lynn became the first United States church official to be convicted of child endangerment because of his part in covering up child sex abuse allegations by clergy. Lynn was responsible for making recommendations as to the assignment of clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He was found guilty of one count of endangering the welfare of a child. On July 24, 2012, Lynn was sentenced to three to six years in prison.
It was revealed that some bishops had facilitated compensation payments to victims on condition that the allegations remained secret. For example, according to the Boston Globe, the Archdiocese of Boston secretly settled child sexual abuse claims against at least 70 priests from 1992 to 2002.
In November 2009, the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse reported its findings in which it concluded that:
"the Dublin Archdiocese's pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The Archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the State".
In April 2010, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins wanted to prosecute the Pope for crimes against humanity due to what they see as his role in intentionally covering up abuse by priests. In a CNN interview a few days later, however, Dawkins declined to discuss the international crime law courts definition of crime against humanity, saying it is a difficult legal question. In April 2010, a lawsuit was filed in the Milwaukee Federal Court by an anonymous "John Doe 16" against the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI. The plaintiff accused Ratzinger and others of having covered up abuse cases to avoid scandal to the detriment of the concerned children. In February 2011, two German lawyers initiated charges against Pope Benedict XVI at the International Criminal Court. As one of the reasons for the charges they referred also to the "strong suspicion" that Joseph Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, covered up the sexual abuse of children and youths and protected the perpetrators.
Internal division became public, with Christoph Cardinal Schönborn accusing Cardinal Angelo Sodano of blocking Ratzinger's investigation of a high-profile case in the mid 1990s.
In the case of the French bishop Pierre Pican, who did not denounce an abusive priest before trial and as a consequence received a suspended jail sentence, the retired Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos wrote a letter to support Pican in his decision. Exposed to heavy critiques Hoyos, claimed to have had the approval of Pope John Paul II. In 2011 Hoyos was heavily criticized again. This time the Congregation for the Clergy was blamed of having opposed in 1997 to the newly adapted rules of the Irish bishops, demanding the denouncement of every abusive priest to the police. The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin described the cooperation with the Congregation for the Clergy as "disastrous".
To place the cases under the competence of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been criticized by some as making the process more secretive and lengthening the time required to address the allegations. For example, in his biography of John Paul II, David Yallop asserts that the backlog of referrals to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for action against sexually abusive priests is so large that it takes 18 months to merely get a reply.
Vatican officials have expressed concern that the church's insistence on confidentiality in its treatment of priestly sexual abuse cases was seen as a ban on reporting serious accusations to the civil authorities. Early in 2010 Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the head of the Congregation for Clergy, finally said that instances of sexual abuse by priests were "criminal facts" as well as serious sins and required co-operation with the civil justice system. Italian academic Lucetta Scaraffia described the conspiracy involved in hiding the offence as omerta, the Mafia code of silence, and said that "We can hypothesise that a greater female presence, not at a subordinate level, would have been able to rip the veil of masculine secrecy that in the past often covered the denunciation of these misdeeds with silence".
Some parties have interpreted the Crimen sollicitationis - a 1962 document ("Instruction") of the Holy Office (which is now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) codifying procedures to be followed in cases of priests or bishops of the Catholic Church accused of having used the sacrament of Penance to make sexual advances to penitents - as a directive from the Vatican to keep all allegations of sexual abuse secret, leading to widespread media coverage of its contents. Lawyers for some of those making abuse allegations claimed that the document demonstrated a systematic conspiracy to conceal such crimes. The Vatican responded that the document was not only widely misinterpreted, but moreover had been superseded by more recent guidelines in the 1960s and 1970s, and especially the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
The media coverage of Catholic sex abuse cases is a major aspect of the academic literature surrounding the pederastic priest scandal.
In 2002 there was discovery that the sex abuse by Catholic priests was widespread in the U.S. which received significant media coverage. For the first 100 days the New York Times had 225 pieces, including news and commentary and the story appeared on the front page on 26 occasions.
Walter V. Robinson, an American journalist and journalism professor led the Boston Globe's coverage of the Roman Catholic sex abuse cases, for which the newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Robinson was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist in Investigative Reporting in 2007.
In Ireland television journalism played a key role in helping public awareness of widespread sexual abuse of children by priests.
Produced by a victim of clerical sex abuse for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2006, the documentary Sex Crimes and the Vatican included the claim that all allegations of sex abuse are to be sent to the Vatican rather than the civil authorities, and that "a secret church decree called 'Crimen sollicitationis' ... imposes the strictest oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation, and any witnesses. Breaking that oath means instant banishment from the Catholic Church - excommunication." The documentary quoted the 2005 Ferns Report: "A culture of secrecy and fear of scandal that led bishops to place the interests of the Catholic Church ahead of the safety of children".
Canon lawyer Thomas Doyle, who was included in the documentary as supporting the picture that it presented, later wrote with regard to the 1962 Crimen sollicitations and the 2001 De delictis gravioribus as well as the Church's formal investigation into charges of abuse: "There is no basis to assume that the Holy See envisioned this process to be a substitute for any secular legal process, criminal or civil. It is also incorrect to assume, as some have unfortunately done, that these two Vatican documents are proof of a conspiracy to hide sexually abusive priests or to prevent the disclosure of sexual crimes committed by clerics to secular authorities." However, two years later in 2008 Doyle said of attempts to reform the Catholic Church that it was like "trudging through what can best be described as a swamp of toxic waste".
The Church was reluctant to hand over to the civil authorities information about the Church's own investigations into charges. In the BBC documentary, Rick Romley, a district attorney who initiated an investigation of the Diocese of Phoenix, stated that "the secrecy, the obstruction I saw during my investigation was unparalleled in my entire career as a DA...it was so difficult to obtain any information from the Church at all." He reported archives of documents and incriminating evidence pertaining to sex abuse that were kept from the authorities, which under the law could not be subpoenaed. "The Church fails to acknowledge such a serious problem but more than that, it is not a passiveness but an openly obstructive way of not allowing authorities to try to stop the abuse within the Church. They fought us every step of the way."
There have been many debates over the causes of sex abuse cases.
The 2004 John Jay Report stated "the problem was largely the result of poor seminary training and insufficient emotional support for men ordained in the 1940s and 1950s." A report by the National Review Board issued simultaneously with the John Jay Report pointed to two major deficiencies on the part of seminaries: failure to screen candidates adequately, followed by failure to "form" these candidates appropriately for the challenges of celibacy. These themes are taken up by a recent memoir that combines a first-hand account of life in a minor seminary during the 1960s with a review of the scientific literature about sexually abusive behavior, and then identifies specific aspects of seminary life that could have predisposed future priests to engage in such behavior.
Some bishops and psychiatrists have asserted that the prevailing psychology of the times suggested that people could be cured of such behavior through counseling. Thomas Plante, a psychiatrist specializing in abuse counseling and considered an expert on clerical abuse, states "the vast majority of the research on sexual abuse of minors didn't emerge until the early 1980's. So, it appeared reasonable at the time to treat these men and then return them to their priestly duties. In hindsight, this was a tragic mistake."
Robert S. Bennett, the Roman Catholic Washington attorney who headed the National Review Board's research committee, named "too much faith in psychiatrists" as one of the key problems concerning Catholic sex abuse cases. About 40% of the abusive priests had received counseling before being reassigned.
In Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, Cimbolic & Cartor (2006) noted that because of the large share of post-pubescent male minors among cleric victims there is need to further study the differential variables related to ephebophilia (sexual interest in mid-to-late adolescents, generally ages 15 to 19) versus pedophilia (sexual interest in prepubescent children (generally those 13 years of age or younger) offenders. Cartor, Cimbolic & Tallon (2008) found that 6 percent of the cleric offenders in the John Jay Report are pedophiles, 32 percent ephebophiles, 15 percent 11 & 12 year olds only (both male and female), 20 percent indiscriminate, and 27 percent mildly indiscriminate.
They also found distinct differences between the pedophile and ephebophile groups. They reported that there may be "another group of offenders who are more indiscriminate in victim choice and represent a more heterogeneous, but still a distinct offender category" and suggested further research to determine "specific variables that are unique to this group and can differentiate these offenders from pedophile and ephebophile offenders" so as to improve the identification and treatment of both offenders and victims.
All victims in the John Jay report were minors. Using a non-standard definition of "pre-pubescent," the Causes and Context Study of the John Jay College estimated that only a small percentage of offender priests were true pedophiles. The study classified victims as pre-pubescent if they were age 10 or younger, whereas the age bracket specified in the current guidelines issued by the American Psychiatric Association is "generally age 13 or younger." A recent book estimates that if the latter definition were used instead of the former, the percentage of victims classified as prepubescent would have been 54% rather than the 18% figure cited by the Causes and Context report, and that a higher percentage of priests would therefore have been classified as pedophiles. The same book also points out that with the pending new definition of "pedohebephilic disorder" in DSM-5, an even higher percentage of victims would fall into a category consistent with their abusers having a recognized psychosexual disorder.
According to the John-Jay-Report 80.9% of the alleged abuse victims in the United States were male. This led to William Donohue of the Catholic League to opine: "I maintain it has been a homosexual crisis all along." This was described as “an unwarranted conclusion” to assert that the majority of priests who abused male victims are gay. Though “the majority of the abusive acts were homosexual in nature [...] participation in homosexual acts is not the same as sexual identity as a gay man.” She further stated that "the idea of sexual identity [should] be separated from the problem of sexual abuse...[A]t this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now.” Research on pedophilia in general shows a majority of abusers identify themselves as heterosexual. The Causes and Context Study of the John Jay Institute found no statistical support for linking homosexual identity and sexual abuse of minors. Additionally The New York Times reported "the abuse decreased as more gay priests began serving the church."
Opinion seems divided on whether there is any definite link or connection between the Roman Catholic institution of celibacy and incidences of child abuse by Catholic clergy.
A 2005 article in the conservative Irish weekly the Western People proposed that clerical celibacy contributed to the abuse problem by suggesting that the institution of celibacy has created a "morally superior" status that is easily misapplied by abusive priests: "The Irish Church's prospect of a recovery is zero for as long as bishops continue blindly to toe the Vatican line of Pope Benedict XVI that a male celibate priesthood is morally superior to other sections of society." Christoph Schönborn and Hans Küng have also said that priestly celibacy could be one of the causes of the sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church.
Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said, "We don't see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else. I can tell you without hesitation that we have seen cases in many religious settings, from traveling evangelists to mainstream ministers to rabbis and others." Philip Jenkins, a long-time Catholic turned Episcopalian, asserts that his "research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination—or indeed, than non-clergy. However determined news media may be to see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported."
Italian academic Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in L'Osservatore Romano that a greater presence of women in the Vatican could have prevented clerical sexual abuse from taking place.
This view has been challenged and severely criticized by several scholars for denying the cases of nuns implicated in sexual abuse and pedophilia. In 1986, a History scholar from Standford University, recovered archival information about investigations from 1619 to 1623 involving nuns in Vellano, Italy, secretly exploiting illiterate nuns for several years. In 1998, a religious research national survey on revealed a very high number of nuns reporting childhood victimizations of sexual abuse by other nuns. It was further noted that the majority of nun-abuse victims are of the same sex. In 2002, Markham examined the sexual histories of nuns to find several cases of nuns sexually abusing children. In the last decade, many more cases have been recovered suggesting that cases involving nuns are as frequent or more frequent than those involving male priests.
It has been argued that shortage of priests caused the Roman Catholic hierarchy to act in such a way to preserve the number of clergy and ensure that sufficient numbers were available to serve the congregation despite serious allegations that these priests were unfit for duty. Others disagree and assert that the Church hierarchy's mishandling of the sex abuse cases merely reflected their prevailing attitude at the time towards any illegal or immoral activity by clergy.][
In The Courage To Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church, author George Weigel claims that it was the infidelity to orthodox Roman Catholic teaching, the "culture of dissent" of priests, women religious, bishops, theologians, catechists, Church bureaucrats, and activists who "believed that what the Church proposed as true was actually false" was mainly responsible for this problem. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired Archbishop of Washington, blamed the declining morals of the late 20th century as a cause of the high number of sexually abusive priests.
The hypothesis that a purported decline in general moral standards was associated with an increase in abuse by clergy was promoted by a study by John Jay College funded by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The study claimed that the liberal 1960s caused the increase in abuse, and the conservative Reagan years led to its decline. The study was branded the 'Woodstock Defence' by critics who said that the study's own figures showed a surge in abuse reported from the 1950s, and the passage of time meant that reports of abuse from earlier decades were unlikely.
Reinforcing this criticism of the 'Woodstock Defense,' a recent book used data extracted from the Causes and Context report to show that the incidence of abuse actually increased more before the advent of the "permissive society" in the mid 1960s than after it. Given this statistic, the book further argued that Vatican II reforms and the "moral ambiguity" they supposedly created could not have caused the surge in abuse either, since the Council did not end until 1965 and its major reforms then took several years to implement. The book proposes an alternative explanation for the timing of the abuse "epidemic" based on two key factors: the extreme isolation of traditional seminaries from the outside world, and its particularly disorienting effect on future priests who trained during the turbulent and transformational period between the 1930s and 1950s; and a major surge in seminary enrollment that began around 1940 and which – as first noted by the National Review Board in 2004 – allowed a larger number of unsuitable characters to enter seminaries and become priests.
Many popular culture representations have been made of the sex abuse of children cases. Some are first person like Sex crimes and the Vatican (2006) is a documentary film by Colm O'Gorman, who was raped by a Catholic priest in the diocese of Ferns in County Wexford in Ireland when he was 14 years old.
A number of books have been written about the abuse suffered from priests and nuns, including Andrew Madden's Altar Boy: A Story of Life After Abuse, Carolyn Lehman's Strong at the Heart: How it Feels to Heal from Sexual Abuse, Larry Kelly's The Pigeon House which deals with abuse in the Pigeon House TB Sanatorium at Ringsend, and Kathy O'Beirne's bestseller Kathy's Story which details physical and sexual abuse suffered in a Magdalene laundry in Ireland. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ed West has asserted that Kathy Beirne's story is "largely invented" according to Kathy's Real Story, a book by Hermann Kelly, a Derry born journalist on the Irish Daily Mail and former editor of The Irish Catholic.
The Magdalene laundries caught the public's attention in the late 1990s as claims of widespread abuse from some former inmates gathered momentum and were made the subject a controversial film called The Magdalene Sisters (2002). In 2006, a documentary called Deliver Us From Evil was made about sexual abuse and primarily focused on one priest and his crimes; it also showed the lengths the Catholic Church would go to in order to cover up the many reports of sexual abuse.
Several other films have been made about sex abuse within the Church, including:
A daily updated list of films and documentaries is available at the "Literature List Clergy Sexual Abuse" composed by journalist and author Roel Verschueren.
Death metal band Immolation, already known for their anti-religious themes, has a song called "Father, You're Not A Father" on their 2000 album Close to a World Below about a traumatized child who was abused by a priest. In 2003, the band Epica released the song "Cry for the Moon" on the album "The Phantom Agony" (it was released as a single the next year), based on the sex abuse scandals of the Catholic Church. This song is part of their anti-religion series, "The Embrace That Smothers". "Altered Boy" on Exodus's album, Shovel Headed Kill Machine (2005), speaks against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The abuse inspired Billy Talent to write their song "Devil in a Midnight Mass" (first released in 2005). Also in 2005, Limp Bizkit released the album The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1), which focuses on dark lyrical subject matter, including Catholic sex abuse cases, terrorism and fame. In 2007, Apocalyptica first released "I'm Not Jesus", featuring singer Corey Taylor, which is a song about a former victim of Catholic sex abuse. Polish band Hunter made song called "Armia Boga" that describes sex abuses in Catholic Church.
The popular television show South Park parodied the scandal in 2002, with an episode entitled "Red Hot Catholic Love". The local priest in South Park tries to stop priests around the world from having sex with young boys, but they all fail to see the problem and instead of fixing it, try to come up with ways of not getting caught. As early as 1992, singer Sinéad O'Connor protested child abuse in the Catholic Church in a controversial appearance on Saturday Night Live.
Abuse is the improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, sexual assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; wrongful practice or custom; offense; crime, or otherwise verbal aggression.
Abuse of authority, in the form of political corruption, is the use of legislated or otherwise authorized powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by private persons or corporations not directly involved with the government. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties.
Abuse of authority is separated from abuse of power in that the act is originally condoned, but is extended beyond that initially conceived and is in not all cases
An abuse of discretion is a failure to take into proper consideration the facts and law relating to a particular matter; an arbitrary or unreasonable departure from precedent and settled judicial custom.
Abuse of information typically involves a breach of confidence or plagiarism, or extending the confidence of information beyond those authorized.
In the financial world, Insider trading can also be considered a misuse of internal information that gives an unfair advantage in investment.
Abuse of power, in the form of "malfeasance in office" or "official misconduct," is the commission of an unlawful act, done in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties. Malfeasance in office is often grounds for a for cause removal of an elected official by statute or recall election.
A cause of action in tort arising from one party making a malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process (civil or criminal) not justified by the underlying legal action.
Rankism (also called abuse of rank) is treating people of a lower rank in an abusive, discriminatory, or exploitative way. Robert W. Fuller claims that rankism includes the abuse of the power inherent in superior rank, with the view that rank-based abuse underlies many other phenomena such as bullying, racism, sexism, and homophobia.
Ad hominem abuse (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one's opponent in order to invalidate his or her argument, but can also involve pointing out factual but ostensible character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent's argument.
Adult abuse refers to the abuse of vulnerable adults.
Alcohol abuse, as described in the DSM-IV, is a psychiatric diagnosis describing the recurring use of alcoholic beverages despite its negative consequences. Alcohol abuse is sometimes referred to by the less specific term alcoholism. However, many definitions of alcoholism exist, and only some are compatible with alcohol abuse. There are two types of alcoholics: those who have anti social and pleasure-seeking tendencies, and those who are anxiety-ridden- people who are able to go without drinking for long periods of time but are unable to control themselves once they start. Binge drinking is another form of alcohol abuse. Frequent binge drinking or getting severely drunk more than twice is classed as alcohol misuse. According to research done through international surveys, the heaviest drinkers happen to be the United Kingdom's adolescent generation.
Animal abuse is the infliction of suffering or harm upon animals, other than humans, for purposes other than self-defense. More narrowly, it can be harm for specific gain, such as killing animals for fur. Diverging viewpoints are held by jurisdictions throughout the world.
Anti-social behaviour is often seen as public behaviour that lacks judgement and consideration for others and may cause them or their property damage. It may be intentional, as with vandalism or graffiti, or the result of negligence. Persistent anti-social behaviour may be a manifestation of an antisocial personality disorder. The counterpart of anti-social behaviour is pro-social behaviour, namely any behaviour intended to help or benefit another person, group or society.
Bullying is repeated acts over time that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power with the more powerful individual or group attacking those who are less powerful. Bullying may consist of three basic types of abuse – verbal, physical and emotional. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways. Although the UK currently has no legal definition of bullying, some US states have laws against it. Bullying is usually done to coerce others by fear or threat.
Character assassination is an attempt to tarnish a person's reputation. It may involve exaggeration or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person. It is a form of defamation and can be a form of ad hominem argument.
Child abuse is the physical or psychological/emotional mistreatment of children. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Most child abuse occurs in a child's home, with a smaller amount occurring in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.
Child-on-child sexual abuse refers to a form of child sexual abuse in which a prepubescent child is sexually abused by one or more other children or adolescent youths, and in which no adult is directly involved. This includes sexual activity between children that occurs without consent, without equality, or as a result of coercion; particularly when physical force, threats, trickery, or emotional manipulation are used to elicit cooperation.
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent abuses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of CSA include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, actual sexual contact against a child, physical contact with the child's genitals, viewing of the child's genitalia without physical contact, or using a child to produce child pornography.
Clandestine abuse is sexual, psychological, or physical abuse "that is kept secret for a purpose, concealed, or underhanded."
Corruption can be defined as the misuse of public office for private gain. This involves putting personal interests above those of the people and ideals he or she is pledged to serve. It comes in many forms, is often subjective and can range in severity. Corruption can involve promises, threats or both.
Cyberbullying "involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others. -Bill Belsey"
Dating abuse is a pattern of abusive behavior exhibited by one or both partners in a dating relationship. The behavior may include, but is not limited to, physical abuse, psychological abuse and sexual abuse.
Defamation is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. It is usually, but not always, a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant).
It has been noted that disabled people are disproportionately affected by disability abuse and bullying, and such activity has been cited as a hate crime. The bullying is not limited to those who are visibly disabled such as wheelchair-users or physically deformed such as those with a cleft lip but also those with learning disabilities such as autism and dyspraxia In the latter case, this is linked to a poor ability in physical education, and this behaviour can be encouraged by the unthinking physical education teacher. Abuse of the disabled is not limited to schools. There are many known cases in which the disabled have been abused by staff of a "care institution", such as the case revealed in a BBC Panorama programme on a Castlebeck care home (Winterbourne View) near Bristol which led to its closure and the suspension and sacking of some of the staff.
Discriminatory abuse involves picking on or treating someone unfairly because something about them is different, for example it may be:
Discriminatory laws such as redlining have existed in many countries. In some countries, controversial attempts such as racial quotas have been used to redress negative effects of discrimination.
Other acts of discrimination include political libel, defamation of groups and stereotypes based on exaggerations.
Domestic abuse can be broadly defined as any form of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an [intimate relationship] such as marriage, cohabitation,family, dating or even friends. It is important to remember that abuse is always intentional and can not happen by accident. Domestic violence has many forms including:
Domestic violence may or may not constitute a crime, depending on local statues, severity and duration of specific acts, and other variables. Alcohol consumption and mental illness have frequently been associated with abuse.
Economic abuse is a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner's access to economic resources, which diminishes the victim's capacity to support him/herself and forces him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially.
Elder abuse is a type of harm to older adults involving abuse by trusted individuals in a manner that "causes harm or distress to an older person." This definition has been adopted by the World Health Organization from a definition put forward by Action on Elder Abuse in the UK.
False accusations (or false allegations) can be in any of the following contexts:
Financial abuse (or material abuse) is, for example, illegal or unauthorized use of a person’s property, money, pension book or other valuables (including changing the person's will to name the abuser as heir), often fraudulently obtaining power of attorney, followed by deprivation of money or other property, or by eviction from own home.
Flag abuse (or flag desecration) is a term applied to various acts that intentionally destroy, damage or mutilate a flag in public, most often a national flag. Often, such action is intended to make a political point against a country or its policies. Some countries have laws forbidding methods of destruction (such as burning in public) or forbidding particular uses (such as for commercial purposes); such laws may distinguish between desecration of the country's own national flag and flags of other countries. Some countries have laws protecting the right to burn a flag as free speech.
Gaming the system (or bending the rules, gaming the rules, playing the system, abusing the system, milking the system, or working the system) can be defined as using the rules and procedures meant to protect a system in order, instead, to manipulate the system for a desired outcome.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorientating the victim.
Gay bashing and gay bullying is verbal or physical abuse against a person who is perceived by the aggressor to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual, including people who are actually heterosexual or of non-specific or unknown sexual orientation.
Group psychological abuse refers to groups where methods of psychological abuse are frequently or systematically used on their members. Such abuse would be practices that treat the members as objects one is free to manipulate instead of respecting their autonomy, human rights, identity and dignity. In a group can also play mind games with another person that can make the victim seem like they are accepted but in actuality they are backstabbing the person when his/her back is turned. When the victim requests assistance from the abusing group it is not given.
Harassment covers a wide range of offensive behaviour. It is commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset. In the legal sense, it is behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing.
Power harassment is harassment or unwelcome attention of a political nature, often occurring in the environment of a workplace.
Sexual harassment refers to persistent and unwanted sexual advances, typically in the workplace, where the consequences of refusing are potentially very disadvantageous to the victim.
Hate crimes occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation.
"Hate crime" generally refers to criminal acts which are seen to have been motivated by hatred of one or more of the listed conditions. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).
Hazing is activities involving harassment, abuse, or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group.
Hazing is seen in many different types of groups, including in gangs, clubs, sports teams, military units, and workplaces. In the United States and Canada, hazing is often associated with Greek-letter organizations (fraternities and sororities). Hazing is often prohibited by law and may be either physical (possibly violent) or mental (possibly degrading) practices. It may also include nudity or sexually oriented activities.
Human rights are "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled." Examples of rights and freedoms which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to be treated with respect and dignity, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education in some countries.
Humiliation is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. It can be brought about through bullying, intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery, or by embarrassment if a person is revealed to have committed a socially or legally unacceptable act.
Incivility is a general term for social behaviour lacking in civility or good manners, on a scale from rudeness or lack of respect for elders, to vandalism and hooliganism, through public drunkenness and threatening behaviour.
Institutional abuse can typically occur in a care home, nursing home, acute hospital or in-patient setting and can be any of the following:
An insult is an expression, statement (or sometimes behavior) which is considered degrading and offensive.
Intimidation is intentional behavior "which would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities" fear of injury or harm. It's not necessary to prove that the behavior was so violent as to cause terror or that the victim was actually frightened. "The calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to attain goals political, religious, or ideological in nature...through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear" can be defined as terrorism.
Legal abuse refers to abuses associated with both civil and criminal legal action. Abuse can originate from nearly any part of the legal system, including frivolous and vexatious litigants, abuses by law enforcement, incompetent, careless or corrupt attorneys and misconduct from the judiciary itself.
Legal abuse is responsible not only for injustice, but also harm to physical, psychological and societal health.*
Market abuse may arise in circumstances where financial investors have been unreasonably disadvantaged, directly or indirectly, by others who:
War crimes are "violations of the laws or customs of war"; including "murder, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps", "the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war", the killing of hostages, "the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military, or civilian necessity".
War rape is rape committed by soldiers, other combatants or civilians during armed conflict or war. During war and armed conflict rape is frequently used as means of psychological warfare in order to humiliate the enemy and undermine their morale.
Military sexual trauma is sexual assault and rape experienced by military personnel. It is often accompanied by posttraumatic stress disorder.
Mind abuse or mind control refers to a process in which a group or individual "systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated". The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual's sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making.
Misconduct means a wrongful, improper, or unlawful conduct motivated by premeditated or intentional purpose or by obstinate indifference to the consequences of one's acts. Three categories of misconduct are official misconduct, professional misconduct and sexual misconduct.
Mobbing means bullying of an individual by a group in any context. Identified as emotional abuse in the workplace, such as "ganging up" by co-workers, subordinates or superiors, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, humiliation, discrediting, and isolation, it is also referred to as malicious, nonsexual, nonracial, general harassment.
Mobbing can take place in any group environment such as a workplace, neighbourhood or family.
Narcissistic abuse is a term that emerged in the late 20th century, and became more prominent in the 2000s decade. It originally referred specifically to abuse by narcissistic parents of their children, but more recently has come to mean any abuse by a narcissist.
Neglect is a passive form of abuse in which the perpetrator is responsible to provide care for a victim who is unable to care for oneself, but fails to provide adequate care to meet the victim's needs, thereby resulting in the victim's demise.
Neglect may include failing to provide sufficient supervision, nourishment, medical care or other needs for which the victim is helpless to provide for him/her/itself. The victim may be a child, physically or mentally disabled adult, animal, plant, or inanimate object.
Negligence is conduct that is culpable because it falls short of what a reasonable person would do to protect another individual from foreseeable risks of harm.
Abuse of parents by their children is a common but under reported and under researched subject. Parents are quite often subject to levels of childhood aggression, typically in the form of verbal or physical abuse, in excess of normal childhood aggressive outbursts. Parents feel a sense of shame and humiliation to have that problem, so they rarely seek help and there is usually little or no help available anyway.
Passive–aggressive behavior is a form of covert abuse. It is passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to following through with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations. It can manifest itself as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.
Patient abuse or neglect is any action or failure to act which causes unreasonable suffering, misery or harm to the patient. It includes physically striking or sexually assaulting a patient. It also includes withholding of necessary food, physical care, and medical attention. It applies to various contexts such as hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and home visits.
"Peer abuse" is an expression popularized by Elizabeth Bennett in 2006 to reinforce the idea that it is as valid to identify bullying as a form of abuse as any other type of abuse. The term conveys similar connotations to the term peer victimization.
Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. The most common forms are religious persecution, ethnic persecution, and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms.
Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm.
Police brutality is the intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially also in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer. It is in some instances triggered by "contempt of cop", i.e., perceived disrespect towards police officers.
Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits and/or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest.
Police misconduct refers to inappropriate actions taken by police officers in connection with their official duties. Police misconduct can lead to a miscarriage of justice and sometimes involves discrimination.
A prejudice is a preconceived belief, opinion, or judgment toward a group of people or a single person because of race, social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability, political beliefs, religion, line of work or other personal characteristics. It also means a priori beliefs (without knowledge of the facts) and includes "any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence." Although positive and negative prejudice both exist, when used negatively, "prejudice" implies fear and antipathy toward such a group or person.
Prisoner abuse is the mistreatment of persons while they are under arrest or incarcerated. Abuse falling into this category includes:
Abuse may be:
Professional abuse always involves:
Psychological abuse, also referred to as emotional abuse or mental abuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that is psychologically harmful. Such abuse is often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, bullying, child abuse and in the workplace.
Racism is abusive attitudes or treatment of others based on the belief that race is a primary determinant of human traits and capacities. It is a form of pride that one's own race is superior and, as a result, has a right to "rule or dominate others," according to a Macquarie Dictionary definition. Racism is correlated with and can foster race-based prejudice, violence, dislike, discrimination, and oppression.
Racism along with extreme nationalism and ethnic bias was a common trait of fascist regimes such as Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s, led by Adolf Hitler who orchestrated the Holocaust against 6 million Jews. The Nazi party promoted racism and antisemitism to blamed German Jews and Jews for Germany's economic, social and political woes, including Germany's surrender to the allies by the Treaty of Versailles ended World War I (1918). Hitler thought Jewish intellectuals, communists and capitalists alike, were responsible and he started World War II in 1939 but he fell into defeat in 1945 by the Soviets (Russia) and the same countries (Britain, France and the USA) whom defeated Germany before.
Ragging is a form of abuse on newcomers to educational institutions in India, Sri Lanka, and Australia. It is similar to the American phenomenon known as hazing. Currently, Sri Lanka is said to be its worst affected country in the world.
Rape, also referred to as sexual assault, is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or without sexual penetration of another person without that person's consent.
The rate of reporting, prosecution and convictions for rape varies considerably in different jurisdictions. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of U.S. rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male. In one survey of women, only two percent of respondents who stated they were sexually assaulted said that the assault was perpetrated by a stranger. For men, male-male rape in prisons has been a significant problem.
Relational aggression, also known as covert aggression or covert bullying is a type of aggression in which harm is caused through damage to relationships or social status within a group rather than physical violence. Relational aggression is more common and more studied among girls than boys.
Religious abuse refers to
Rudeness (also called impudence or effrontery) is the disrespect and failure to behave within the context of a society or a group of people's social laws or etiquette.
Satanic ritual abuse (SRA, sometimes known as ritual abuse, ritualistic abuse, organised abuse, sadistic ritual abuse and other variants) was a moral panic that originated in the United States in the 1980s, spreading throughout the country and eventually to many parts of the world, before subsiding in the late 1990s.
School bullying, is a type of bullying that occurs in connection with education, either inside or outside of school. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or emotional and is usually repeated over a period of time.
Self-destructive behaviour is a broad set of extreme actions and emotions including self-harm and drug abuse. It can take a variety of forms, and be undertaken for a variety of reasons. It is most visible in young adults and adolescents, but it may affect people of any age.
Sexual abuse is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another, when that force falls short of being a sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester. The term also covers any behavior by any adult towards a child to stimulate either the adult or child sexually. When the victim is younger than the age of consent, it is referred to as child sexual abuse.
Sexual bullying is "any bullying behaviour, whether physical or non-physical, that is based on a person’s sexuality or gender. It is when sexuality or gender is used as a weapon by boys or girls towards other boys or girls – although it is more commonly directed at girls. It can be carried out to a person’s face, behind their back or through the use of technology."
Sibling abuse is the physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse of one sibling by another.
It is estimated that as many as 3% of children are dangerously abusive towards a sibling, making sibling abuse more common than child abuse by parents, and more common than spousal abuse.
A "smear campaign", "smear tactic" or simply "smear" is a metaphor for activity that can harm an individual or group's reputation by conflation with a stigmatized group. Sometimes smear is used more generally to include any reputation-damaging activity, including such colloquialisms as mud slinging.
Spiritual abuse occurs when a person in religious authority or a person with a unique spiritual practice misleads and maltreats another person in the name of God or church or in the mystery of any spiritual concept. Spiritual abuse often refers to an abuser using spiritual or religious rank in taking advantage of the victim's spirituality (mentality and passion on spiritual matters) by putting the victim in a state of unquestioning obedience to an abusive authority.
Stalking is unwanted attention by individuals (and sometimes groups of people) towards others. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation. The word "stalking" is used, with some differing meanings, in psychology and psychiatry and also in some legal jurisdictions as a term for a criminal offence. It may also to refer to criminal offences or civil wrongs that include conduct which some people consider to be stalking, such as those described in law as "harassment" or similar terms.
Structural abuse is sexual, emotional or physical abuse that is imposed on an individual or group by a social or cultural system or authority. Structural abuse is indirect, and exploits the victim on an emotional, mental and psychological level. It could manifest itself through any situation within a cultural or social framework.
Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a substance (drug) in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods neither approved nor supervised by medical professionals. Substance abuse/drug abuse is not limited to mood-altering or psycho-active drugs. If an activity is performed using the objects against the rules and policies of the matter (as in steroids for performance enhancement in sports), it is also called substance abuse. Therefore, mood-altering and psychoactive substances are not the only types of drugs abused. Using illicit drugs – narcotics, stimulants, depressants (sedatives), hallucinogens, cannabis, even glues and paints, are also considered to be classified as drug/substance abuse. Substance abuse often includes problems with impulse control and impulsive behaviour.
Surveillance abuse is the use of surveillance methods or technology to monitor the activity of an individual or group of individuals in a way which violates the social norms or laws of a society. Mass surveillance by the state may constitute surveillance abuse if not appropriately regulated. Surveillance abuse often falls outside the scope of lawful interception. It is illegal because it violates peoples' right to privacy.
A taunt is a battle cry, a method in hand-to-hand combat, sarcastic remark, or insult intended to demoralize the recipient, or to anger them and encourage reactionary behaviors without thinking.][ Taunting can exist as a form of social competition to gain control of the target's cultural capital (i.e. status).][ In sociological theory, the control of the three social capitals is used to produce an advantage in the social hierarchy as to enforce one's own position in relation to others. Taunting is committed by either directly bullying, or indirectly encouraging others to bully the target. It is also possible to give a response of the same kind, to ensure one's own status. It can be compared to fighting words and trash-talk.
Teasing is a word with many meanings. In human interactions, teasing comes in two major forms, playful and hurtful. In mild cases, and especially when it is reciprocal, teasing can be viewed as playful and friendly. However, teasing is often unwelcome and then it takes the form of harassment. In extreme cases, teasing may escalate to actual violence, and may even result in abuse, potentially meeting the legal definition of child abuse or even murder. Children are commonly teased on such matters as their appearance, weight, behavior, abilities, and clothing. This kind of teasing is often hurtful, even when the teaser believes he or she is being playful. One may also tease an animal. Some animals, such as dogs and cats, may recognize this as play, but as in humans, teasing can become hurtful and take the form of bullying and abuse.
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. At present, there is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism. Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians). it is sometimes sponsored by state policies...when a country is not able to militarily prove itself to another enemy country.
Torture is any act by which severe pain, whether physical or psychological, is intentionally inflicted.
Trans bashing is the act of victimizing a person physically, sexually, or verbally because they are transgender or transsexual. Unlike gay bashing, it is committed because of the target's actual or perceived gender identity, not sexual orientation.
Umpire abuse refers to the act of abuse towards a umpire, referee, or other official in sport. The abuse can be verbal abuse (such as namecalling), or physical abuse (such as punching).
Verbal abuse is a form of abusive behavior involving the use of language. It is a form of profanity that can occur with or without the use of expletives. Whilst oral communication is the most common form of verbal abuse, it includes abusive words in written form.
Verbal abuse is a pattern of behavior that can seriously interfere with one's positive emotional development and can lead to significant detriment to one's self-esteem, emotional well-being, and physical state. It has been further described as an ongoing emotional environment organized by the abuser for the purposes of control.
A whispering campaign is a method of persuasion in which damaging rumors or innuendo are spread about the target, while the source of the rumors seeks to avoid being detected while spreading them (for example, a political campaign might distribute anonymous flyers attacking the other candidate).
Workplace bullying, like childhood bullying is the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a co-worker. Workplace bullying can include such tactics as verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical abuse and humiliation. This type of aggression is particularly difficult because unlike the typical forms of school bullying, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization and their society. Bullying in the workplace is in the majority of cases reported as having been perpetrated by a manager and takes a wide variety of forms.
Some important characteristics and styles of abuse are:
Telltale signs may include:
In their review of data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (a longitudinal birth cohort study; n = 941) Moffitt et al. report that while men exhibit more aggression overall, gender is not a reliable predictor of interpersonal aggression, including psychological aggression. The study found that whether male or female, aggressive people share a cluster of traits, including high rates of suspicion and jealousy; sudden and drastic mood swings; poor self-control; and higher than average rates of approval of violence and aggression (in American society, females are, on average, approved][ of violence against males). Moffitt et al. also argue that antisocial men exhibit two distinct types of interpersonal aggression (one against strangers, the other against intimate female partners), while antisocial women are rarely aggressive against anyone other than intimate male partners.
Male and female perpetrators of emotional and physical abuse exhibit high rates of personality disorders. Rates of personality disorder in the general population are roughly 15%–20%, while roughly 80% of abusive men in court-ordered treatment programmes have personality disorders. There are no similar statistics on female perpetrators of family violence due to bias][ in the data gathering procedure. The only statistics available are the reports on child maltreatment, which show that mothers use physical discipline on children more often than fathers, while severe injury and sexual abuse are more often perpetrated by men.
Abusers may aim to avoid household chores or exercise total control of family finances. Abusers can be very manipulative, often recruiting friends, law officers and court officials, even the victim's family to their side, while shifting blame to the victim.
English et al. report that children whose families are characterized by interpersonal violence, including psychological aggression and verbal aggression, may exhibit a range of serious disorders, including chronic depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, dissociation and anger. Additionally, English et al. report that the impact of emotional abuse "did not differ significantly" from that of physical abuse. Johnson et al. report that, in a survey of female patients (n = 825), 24% suffered emotional abuse, and this group experienced higher rates of gynecological problems. In their study of men emotionally abused by a wife/partner (n = 116), Hines and Malley-Morrison report that victims exhibit high rates of post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism.
Namie's study of workplace bullying found that 31% of women and 21% of men who reported workplace bullying exhibited three key symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (hypervigilance, intrusive imagery, and avoidance behaviors). A 1998 study of male college students (n = 70) by Simonelli & Ingram found that men who were emotionally abused by their female partners exhibited higher rates of chronic depression than the general population.
A study of college students (n = 80) by Goldsmith and Freyd report that many who have experienced emotional abuse do not characterize the mistreatment as abusive. Additionally, Goldsmith and Freyd show that these people also tend to exhibit higher than average rates of alexithymia (difficulty identifying and processing their own emotions).
Jacobson et al. found that women report markedly higher rates of fear during marital conflicts. However, a rejoinder argued that Jacobson's results were invalid due to men and women's drastically differing interpretations of questionnaires. Coker et al. found that the effects of mental abuse were similar whether the victim was male or female. Pimlott-Kubiak and Cortina found that severity and duration of abuse were the only accurate predictors of aftereffects of abuse; sex of perpetrator or victim were not reliable predictors.
Analysis of large survey (n = 25,876) by LaRoche found that women abused by men were slightly more likely to seek psychological help than were men abused by women (63% vs. 62%).
In a 2007 study, Laurent, et al., report that psychological aggression in young couples (n = 47) is associated with decreased satisfaction for both partners: "psychological aggression may serve as an impediment to couples development because it reflects less mature coercive tactics and an inability to balance self/other needs effectively." A 2008 study by Walsh and Shulman reports that psychological aggression by females is more likely to be associated with relationship dissatisfaction for both partners, while withdrawal by men is more likely to be associated with relationship dissatisfaction for both partners.
In abusive relationships, violence is posited to arise out of a need for power and control of one partner over the other. An abuser will use various tactics of abuse (e.g., physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or financial) in order to establish and maintain control over the partner.
Abusers' efforts to dominate their partners have been attributed to low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy, unresolved childhood conflicts, the stress of poverty, hostility and resentment toward women (misogyny), hostility and resentment toward men (misandry), personality disorders, genetic tendencies and sociocultural influences, among other possible causative factors. Most authorities seem to agree that abusive personalities result from a combination of several factors, to varying degrees.
A causalist view of domestic violence is that it is a strategy to gain or maintain power and control over the victim. This view is in alignment with Bancroft's "cost-benefit" theory that abuse rewards the perpetrator in ways other than, or in addition to, simply exercising power over his or her target(s). He cites evidence in support of his argument that, in most cases, abusers are quite capable of exercising control over themselves, but choose not to do so for various reasons.
An alternative view is that abuse arises from powerlessness and externalizing/projecting this and attempting to exercise control of the victim. It is an attempt to 'gain or maintain power and control over the victim' but even in achieving this it cannot resolve the powerlessness driving it. Such behaviours have addictive aspects leading to a cycle of abuse or violence. Mutual cycles develop when each party attempts to resolve their own powerlessness in attempting to assert control.
Questions of power and control are integral to the widely utilized Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. They developed a "Power and Control Wheel" to illustrate this: it has power and control at the center, surrounded by spokes (techniques used), the titles of which include: coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing, denying and blaming, using children, economic abuse, and male privilege. The model attempts to address abuse by challenging the misuse of power by the perpetrator.
The power wheel model is not intended to assign personal responsibility, enhance respect for mutual purpose or assist victims and perpetrators in resolving their differences. Rather, it is an informational tool designed to help individuals understand the dynamics of power operating in abusive situations and identify various methods of abuse.
Critics of this model argue that it ignores research linking domestic violence to substance abuse and psychological problems. Some modern research into the patterns in domestic violence has found that women are more likely to be physically abusive towards their partner in relationships in which only one partner is violent, which draws the effectiveness of using concepts like male privilege to treat domestic violence into question; however, it may still be valid in studying severe abuse cases, which are mostly male perpetrated. However, modern research into predictors of injury from domestic violence finds that the strongest predictor of injury by domestic violence is participation in reciprocal domestic violence, and that this pattern of domestic violence is more often initiated by the female in the relationship.
Victim blaming is holding the victims of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment to be entirely or partially responsible for the unfortunate incident that has occurred in their lives.
Child abuse is the physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department for Children And Families (DCF) define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Child abuse can occur in a child's home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.
In Western countries, preventing child abuse is considered a high priority, and detailed laws and policies exist to address this issue. Different jurisdictions have developed their own definitions of what constitutes child abuse for the purposes of removing a child from his/her family and/or prosecuting a criminal charge. According to the Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect, child abuse is "any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm".
However, Douglas J. Besharov, the first Director of the U.S. Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, states "the existing laws are often vague and overly broad" and there is a "lack of consensus among professionals and Child Protective Services (CPS) personnel about what the terms abuse and neglect mean". Susan Orr, former head of the United States Children’s Bureau U.S. Department of Health and Services- Administration for Children and Families, 2001-2007, states that "much that is now defined as child abuse and neglect does not merit governmental interference".
Until quite recently, children had very few rights in regard to protection from violence by their parents, and still continue to do so in many parts of the world. Historically, fathers had virtually unlimited rights in regard to their children and how they chose to discipline them. In many cultures, such as in Ancient Rome, a father could legally kill his children; many cultures have also allowed fathers to sell their children into slavery. Child sacrifice was also a common practice. Today, corporal punishment of children by their parents remains legal in most countries, but in Western countries that still allow the practice there are strict limits on what is permitted. The first country to outlaw parental corporal punishment was Sweden (parents' right to spank their own children was first removed in 1966, and it was explicitly prohibited by law from July 1979).
Child abuse can take several forms: The four main types are physical, sexual, psychological, and neglect. According to the 2010 Child Maltreatment Report (NCANDS), a yearly Federal report based on submission by state Child Protective Services (CPS) Agencies, “as in prior years, neglect was the most common form of maltreatment.” The cases were substantiated as follows: neglect 78.3%, physical abuse 17.6%, sexual abuse 9.2%, and psychological maltreatment 8.1%.), According to Richard Wexler, the Director of National Coalition of Child Protection Reform, of “those labeled “substantiated” or “indicated” by protective workers, relatively few are the kind that leap to mind when we hear the words “child abuse”. By far the largest category was “neglect”. Often, these are cases in which the primary problem is family poverty.”
Physical abuse involves physical aggression directed at a child by an adult. Most nations with child-abuse laws consider the deliberate infliction of serious injuries, or actions that place the child at obvious risk of serious injury or death, to be illegal. Bruises, scratches, burns, broken bones, lacerations, as well as repeated "mishaps," and rough treatment that could cause physical injury, can be physical abuse. Multiple injuries or fractures at different stages of healing can raise suspicion of abuse. Physical abuse can come in many forms, although the distinction between child discipline and abuse is often poorly defined. However, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations has stated that the prohibition of degrading treatment or punishment extends to corporal punishment of children. Since 1979, 29 countries around the world (at 2010) have outlawed domestic corporal punishment of children. In Europe, 22 countries have banned the practice. Cultural norms about what constitutes abuse vary widely: among professionals as well as the wider public, people do not agree on what behaviors constitute abuse. Some professionals claim that cultural norms that sanction physical punishment are one of the causes of child abuse, and have undertaken campaigns to redefine such norms. Psychologist Alice Miller, noted for her books on child abuse, took the view that humiliations, spankings and beatings, slaps in the face, etc. are all forms of abuse, because they injure the integrity and dignity of a child, even if their consequences are not visible right away.
Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent abuses a child for sexual stimulation. Sexual abuse refers to the participation of a child in a sexual act aimed toward the physical gratification or the financial profit of the person committing the act. Forms of CSA include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, actual sexual contact with a child, physical contact with the child's genitals, viewing of the child's genitalia without physical contact, or using a child to produce child pornography. Selling the sexual services of children may be viewed and treated as child abuse with services offered to the child rather than simple incarceration.
Effects of child sexual abuse include guilt and self-blame, flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, fear of things associated with the abuse (including objects, smells, places, doctor's visits, etc.), self-esteem issues, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, addiction, self-injury, suicidal ideation, somatic complaints, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, other mental illnesses including borderline personality disorder and dissociative identity disorder, propensity to re-victimization in adulthood, bulimia nervosa, physical injury to the child, among other problems.
In the United States, approximately 15% to 25% of women and 5% to 15% of men were sexually abused when they were children. Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, mothers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters, or neighbours; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. In over one-third of cases, the perpetrator is also a minor.
In a 1999 news story, BBC reported, "Close-knit family life in India masks an alarming amount of sexual abuse of children and teenage girls by family members, a new report suggests. Delhi organisation RAHI said 76% of respondents to its survey had been abused when they were children - 40% of those by a family member."
Emotional abuse is defined as the production of psychological and social deficits in the growth of a child as a result of behavior such as loud yelling, coarse and rude attitude, inattention, harsh criticism, and denigration of the child's personality. Other examples include name-calling, ridicule, degradation, destruction of personal belongings, torture or killing of a pet, excessive criticism, inappropriate or excessive demands, withholding communication, and routine labeling or humiliation.
Victims of emotional abuse may react by distancing themselves from the abuser, internalizing the abusive words, or fighting back by insulting the abuser. Emotional abuse can result in abnormal or disrupted attachment development, a tendency for victims to blame themselves (self-blame) for the abuse, learned helplessness, and overly passive behavior.
Child neglect is the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child's health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm. Neglect is also a lack of attention from the people surrounding a child, and the non-provision of the relevant and adequate necessities for the child's survival, which would be a lacking in attention, love, and nurture. Some of the observable signs in a neglected child include: the child is frequently absent from school, begs or steals food or money, lacks needed medical and dental care, is consistently dirty, lacks sufficient clothing for the weather.
Neglected children may experience delays in physical and psychosocial development, possibly resulting in psychopathology and impaired neuropsychological functions including executive function, attention, processing speed, language, memory and social skills. Researchers investigating maltreated children have repeatedly found that neglected children in foster and adoptive populations manifest different emotional and behavioral reactions to regain lost or secure relationships and are frequently reported to have disorganized attachments and a need to control their environment. Such children are not likely to view caregivers as being a source of safety, and instead typically show an increase in aggressive and hyperactive behaviors which may disrupt healthy or secure attachment with their adopted parents. These children have apparently learned to adapt to an abusive and inconsistent caregiver by becoming cautiously self-reliant, and are often described as glib, manipulative and disingenuous in their interactions with others as they move through childhood. Children who are victims of neglect have a more difficult time forming and maintaining relationships, such as romantic or friendship, later in life due to the lack of attachment they had in their earlier stages of life.
Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, or is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. This practice is considered a form of exploitation and abuse of children by many international organisations. Child labor refers to those occupations which infringe the development of children (due to the nature of the job and/or the lack of appropriate regulation) and does not include age appropriate and properly supervised jobs in which minors may participate. According to ILO, globally, around 215 million children work, many full-time. Many of these children do not go to school, do not receive proper nutrition or care, and have little or no time to play. More than half of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labour, such as child prostitution, drug trafficking, armed conflicts and other hazardous environments.
Child trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Children are trafficked for purposes such as of commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labour, camel jockeying, child domestic labour, drug couriering, child soldiering, illegal adoptions, begging.It is difficult to obtain reliable estimates concerning the number of children trafficked each year, primarily due to the covert and criminal nature of the practice. The International Labour Organization estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons." It is practiced mainly in 28 countries in western, eastern, and north-eastern Africa, particularly Egypt and Ethiopia, and in parts of Asia and the Middle East. FGM is most often carried out on young girls aged between infancy and 15 years. The consequences of FGM include physical, emotional and sexual problems, and include serious risks during childbirth. In Western countries this practice is illegal and considered a form of child abuse.
A child marriage is a marriage whereby minors are given in matrimony - often before puberty. Child marriages are common in many parts of the world, especially in parts of Asia and Africa. These marriages are typically arranged and often forced; as young children are generally not capable of giving valid consent to enter into marriage, child marriages are often considered by default to be forced marriages. Marriages under the age of majority have a great potential to constitute a form of child abuse. In many countries there are no adequate laws to criminalize these practices, and even where there are laws, they are often unenforced.
Customary beliefs in witchcraft are common in many parts of the world, even among the educated. This is especially the case in parts of Africa. Witchcraft accusations against children in Africa have received increasing international attention in the first decade of the 21st century. Children who are specifically at risk of such accusations include orphans, street-children, albinos, disabled children, children who are unusually gifted, children who were born prematurely or in unusual positions, and twins. Being accused of witchcraft in Africa is very dangerous, as a witch is culturally understood to be the symbol of evil, and the cause of all ills. Consequently, those accused of being a witch are ostracized and subjected to punishment, torture and even murdered. Recent reports by UNICEF, UNHCR, Save The Children and Human Rights Watch have highlighted the violence and abuse towards children accused of witchcraft in Africa.
David Finkelhor tracked Child Maltreatment Report (NCANDS) data from 1990 to 2010. He states that sexual abuse had declined 62% from 1992 to 2009. The long-term trend for physical abuse was also down by 56% since 1992. The decline in sexual abuse adds to an already substantial positive long-term trend. He states: "It is unfortunate that information about the trends in child maltreatment are not better publicized and more widely known. The long-term decline in sexual and physical abuse may have important implications for public policy."
In 2010, there were 74,100,000 US children ages 0 –17. NCANDS estimated that there were 695,000 unique children with substantiated maltreatment (78.3% were for neglect); which means that in 2010, less than 1% of the U.S. child population had a substantiated or indicated finding of any form of maltreatment. According to the 2010 NCANDS, 17.6% of substantiated/indicated outcomes were for physical abuse (less than 1/5th of 1% of US children) and 9.2% of substantiated/indicated outcomes were for sexual abuse (less than 1/10th of 1% of US children). Finkelhor's data from his 2010 study confirm these numbers. According to the (American) National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, in 1997 neglect represented 54% of confirmed cases of child abuse, physical abuse 22%, sexual abuse 8%, emotional maltreatment 4%, and other forms of maltreatment 12%.
A UNICEF report on child wellbeing stated that the United States and the United Kingdom ranked lowest among industrial nations with respect to the wellbeing of children. It also found that child neglect and child abuse were far more common in single-parent families than in families where both parents are present.
In the USA, neglect is defined as the failure to meet the basic needs of children including housing, clothing, food and access to medical care. Researchers found over 91,000 cases of neglect in one year (from October 2005 to 30 September 2006) using information from a database of cases verified by protective services agencies.
Neglect could also take the form of financial abuse by not buying the child adequate materials for survival.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that for each year between 2000 and 2005, "female parents acting alone" were most likely to be perpetrators of child abuse.
For FFY 2011, United States reported 676,569 victims of child abuse and neglect. Race and ethnicity of victims in 2011: 43.9% of all victims were White, 21.5% were African American, and 22.1% were Hispanic.
According to Manas Akmatov, "A median of 83, 64 and 43% of children in the African region experienced psychological, and moderate and severe physical abuse, respectively. A considerably lower percentage of children in transitional countries experienced these forms of abuse (56, 46 and 9%, respectively)."
In 2010, there were 74,100,000 US children ages 0 –17 according to the US Census Bureau. The 3.3 million annual (hotline) referrals effects on average 1 out of 10 U.S. families with children (There are 32,200,000 U.S. families with children under 18 according to the 2010 U.S. Census). From the 3.3 million hotline calls (2010), there were less than 475,000 substantiated cases (2010 NCANDS: 436,321 substantiated+24,976 indicated=461,297 total) resulting in about 15% of hotline calls substantiated/indicated, of which 78.3% were for neglect.
According to NCANDS 2010, there were 695,000 unique children with substantiated maltreatment (78.3% were for neglect); which means that in 2010, less than 1% of the U.S. child population had a substantiated or indicated finding of any form of maltreatment. According to the 2010 NCANDS, 17.6% of substantiated/indicated outcomes were for physical abuse (less than 1/5th of 1% of US children) and 9.2% of substantiated/indicated outcomes were for sexual abuse (less than 1/10th of 1% of US children). Finkelhor’s data from his 2010 study confirms these numbers. . Some argue that even many "substantiated reports involve only minor or insignificant matters, which most reasonable people would not truly consider abuse or neglect".
A child abuse fatality occurs when a child's death is the result of abuse or neglect, or when abuse and/or neglect are contributing factors to a child's death. In the United States, 1,730 children died in 2008 due to factors related to abuse; this is a rate of 2 per 100,000 U.S. children. Family situations which place children at risk include moving, unemployment, having non-family members living in the household. A number of policies and programs have been put in place in the U.S. to try to better understand and to prevent child abuse fatalities, including: safe-haven laws, child fatality review teams, training for investigators, shaken baby syndrome prevention programs, and child abuse death laws which mandate harsher sentencing for taking the life of a child.
Child abuse is a complex phenomenon with multiple causes. Understanding the causes of abuse is crucial to addressing the problem of child abuse. Parents who physically abuse their spouses are more likely than others to physically abuse their children. However, it is impossible to know whether marital strife is a cause of child abuse, or if both the marital strife and the abuse are caused by tendencies in the abuser. This commonly used term refers to the process of parents' setting expectations for their child that are clearly beyond the child's capability. When parents' expectations are particularly deviant (e.g., preschool children who are expected to be totally responsible for self-care or provision of nurturance to parents) the resulting frustration caused by the child's non-compliance is believed to function as a contributory if not necessary cause of child abuse.
Children resulting from unintended pregnancies are more likely to be abused or neglected. Neglect is by far the most common form of child abuse, accounting for more than 78% of all cases. In addition, unintended pregnancies are more likely than intended pregnancies to be associated with abusive relationships, and there is an increased risk of physical violence during pregnancy. They also result in poorer maternal mental health, and lower mother-child relationship quality.
A study on child abuse sought to determine: the forms of child abuse perpetrated on children with disabilities; the extent of child abuse; and the causes of child abuse of children with disabilities. A questionnaire on child abuse was adapted and used to collect data in this study. Participants comprised a sample of 31 pupils with disabilities (15 children with vision impairment and 16 children with hearing impairment) selected from special schools in Botswana. The study found that the majority of participants were involved in doing domestic chores. They were also sexually, physically and emotionally abused by their teachers. This study showed that children with disabilities were vulnerable to child abuse in their schools.
Substance abuse can be a major contributing factor to child abuse. One U.S. study found that parents with documented substance abuse, most commonly alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, were much more likely to mistreat their children, and were also much more likely to reject court-ordered services and treatments. Another study found that over two-thirds of cases of child maltreatment involved parents with substance abuse problems. This study specifically found relationships between alcohol and physical abuse, and between cocaine and sexual abuse. Although the abuse survivor does not always realise the abuse is wrong, the internal confusion can lead to chaos. Inner anger turns to outer frustration. Once aged 17/18, drink and drugs are used to numb the hurt feelings, nightmares and daytime flashbacks. Acquisitive crimes to pay for the chemicals are inevitable if the survivor is unable to find employment.
A 2010 article in the BBC reports that thousands of African children have been abandoned, tortured and murdered because they are believed to be witches.
Unemployment and financial difficulties are associated with increased rates of child abuse. In 2009 CBS News reported that child abuse in the United States had increased during the economic recession. It gave the example of a father who had never been the primary care-taker of the children. Now that the father was in that role, the children began to come in with injuries.
Child-abuse cases go through screeners like Belisle to an "assessment" worker, the job Belisle used to handle. Eventually they reach the various social workers and services (counseling, referral to day care centers and Alcoholics Anonymous in local neighborhoods). Having been abused as a child seems to lead to a repetition with one's own children. Beyond that, the causes of child abuse seem to be deep-rooted anger and frustration and an intolerable sense of physical or emotional inadequacy. Anger most of all. "They don't know how to control it," says Belisle's co-worker Anna Ferzoco.
A 1988 study of child murders in the US found that children are 100 times more often killed by a "non-biological parent (e.g. step-parent, co-habitee or boyfriend/girlfriend of a biological parent)" than by a biological parent. An evolutionary psychology explanation for this is that using resources in order to take care of another person's biological child is likely not a good strategy for increasing reproductive success. More generally, stepchildren have a much higher risk of being abused which is sometimes referred to as the Cinderella effect. The Cinderella Effect attempts to explain the observation that parents are more likely to kill their stepchildren than their biological children using evolutionary logic - as described by Daly and Wilson: "research concerning animal social behaviour provide a rationale for expecting parents to be discriminative in their care and affection, and more specifically, to discriminate in favour of their own young".
Psychologists conducted a study in the United States in 2010 which examined over 200 regular church attendees from eleven different denominations of Christianity, most of whom were educated, upper-middle class White Americans, found that extrinsic religious orientation was associated with a greater risk of physical child abuse. Those with a more extrinsic religious orientation who also adhered to greater social conformity were particularly more likely to share characteristics with physically abusive subjects. Subjects who adhered to Biblical literalism exhibited a higher potential of physical child abuse. Those who had a more intrinsic religious orientation were not found to be at a greater risk of child abuse, although they sometimes exhibited greater social conformity or a greater propensity for holding literal interpretations of the Bible. Approximately 85% of the study's subjects were parents.
Child abuse is an international phenomenon. Poverty and substance abuse are common widespread international issues, and no matter the location, show a similar trend in the correlation to child abuse.
Although these issues can likely contribute to child maltreatment, differences in cultural perspectives play a significant role in the treatment of children. In certain nations, the battle for equality within the sexes plays a large part in a child’s upbringing. During the Soviet period, there were conflicts regarding the traditional housewife versus the emphasis on equality within the sexes. Some women felt a considerable amount of pressure to carry out their motherly duties, obtaining an “authoritarian” parenting style, acting dominating and emotionally distant towards her children while overly involved in her own career. Many were encouraged to use more firm and direct disciplinary methods, as well as be overbearing and overprotective of their children.
Now that this Communist Era has ended, there are many positive changes being put into play. While there is a new openness and acceptance regarding parenting styles and close relationships with children, child abuse still remains a serious concern. Although it is now more publicly recognized, it has certainly not cease to exist. While controlling parenting may be less of a concern, financial difficulty, unemployment, and substance abuse still remain to be dominating factors in child abuse throughout Eastern Europe.
A study conducted by members from several Baltic and Eastern European countries, together with specialists from the United States, examined the causes of child abuse in the countries of Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia and Moldova. In these countries, respectively, 33%, 42%, 18% and 43% of children reported at least one type of child abuse. According to their findings, there was a serious of correlations between the potential risk factors of parental employment status, alcohol abuse, and family size within the abuse ratings. In three of the four countries, parental substance abuse was considerably correlated with the presence of child abuse, and although it was a lower percentage, still showed a relationship in the fourth country (Moldova). Each country also showed a connection between the father not working outside of the home and either emotional or physical child abuse.
These cultural differences can be studied from many perspectives. Most importantly, overall parental behavior is genuinely different in various countries. Many may view child abuse, both emotional and physical, as socially acceptable. Each culture has their own "range of acceptability," and what one may view as offensive, others may seem as tolerable. Behaviors that are normal to some may be viewed as abusive to others, all depending on the societal norms of that particular country.
Asian parenting perspectives, specifically, hold different ideals from American culture. Many have described their traditions as including physical and emotional closeness that ensures a lifelong bond between parent and child, as well as establishing parental authority and child obedience through harsh discipline. Balancing disciplinary responsibilities within parenting is common in many Asian cultures, including China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and Korea. To some cultures, forceful parenting may be seen as abuse, but in other societies such as these, the use of force is looked at as a reflection of parental devotion.
The differences in these cultural beliefs demonstrate the importance of examining all cross-cultural perspectives when studying the concept of child abuse.
As of 2006, between 25,000 and 50,000 children in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, had been accused of witchcraft and abandoned. In Malawi it is also common practice to accuse children of witchcraft and many children have been abandoned, abused and even killed as a result. In the Nigerian states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River about 15,000 children were branded as witches.
There are strong associations between exposure to child abuse in all its forms and higher rates of many chronic conditions. In the United States, the strongest evidence comes from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's) series of studies which show correlations between exposure to abuse or neglect and higher rates in adulthood of chronic conditions, high-risk health behaviors and shortened lifespan. A recent publication, Hidden Costs in Health Care: The Economic Impact of Violence and Abuse, makes the case that such exposure represents a serious and costly public-health issue that should be addressed by the healthcare system. A big concern with researchers is the degree to which maltreated children grow up to be maltreating adults or if they exhibit social signs of abuse or neglect. Studies show that 90 percent of maltreating adults were maltreated as children in their life. When children were two, studies show that 16 percent of 267 high-risk mothers mistreated their own children, to different effects. The first two years of a child's life is when parents invest the least in their children. Almost 7 million American infants go to child care services, like day care, and a majority of that care is poor. Serious consequences occur when young children are maltreated, including developmental issues. 16 percent of those 267 high risk mothers mistreat their two year old children in different ways. 55 percent of the children experienced physical abuse, 55 percent experienced neglect, 43 percent experienced hostile and rejecting parenting, and 43 percent experienced unavailable parenting.
Children who have a history of neglect or physical abuse are at risk of developing psychiatric problems, or a disorganized attachment style. Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental problems, including dissociative symptoms, as well as anxiety, depressive, and acting out symptoms. A study by Dante Cicchetti found that 80% of abused and maltreated infants exhibited symptoms of disorganized attachment. When some of these children become parents, especially if they suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative symptoms, and other sequelae of child abuse, they may encounter difficulty when faced with their infant and young children's needs and normative distress, which may in turn lead to adverse consequences for their child's social-emotional development. Despite these potential difficulties, psychosocial intervention can be effective, at least in some cases, in changing the ways maltreated parents think about their young children.
Victims of childhood abuse, it is claimed, also suffer from different types of physical health problems later in life. Some reportedly suffer from some type of chronic head, abdominal, pelvic, or muscular pain with no identifiable reason. Even though the majority of childhood abuse victims know or believe that their abuse is, or can be, the cause of different health problems in their adult life, for the great majority their abuse was not directly associated with those problems, indicating that sufferers were most likely diagnosed with other possible causes for their health problems, instead of their childhood abuse. One long-term study found that up to 80% of abused people had at least one psychiatric disorder at age 21, with problems including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. One Canadian hospital found that between 36% and 76% of women mental health outpatients had been abused, as had 58% of women and 23% of men schizophrenic inpatients.
In the case of 23 of the 27 illnesses listed in the questionnaire of a French INSEE survey, some statistically significant correlations were found between repeated illness and family traumas encountered by the child before the age of 18 years. According to Georges Menahem, the French sociologist who found out these correlations by studying health inequalities, these relationships show that inequalities in illness and suffering are not only social. Health inequality also has its origins in the family, where it is associated with the degrees of lasting affective problems (lack of affection, parental discord, the prolonged absence of a parent, or a serious illness affecting either the mother or father) that individuals report having experienced in childhood.
Children who are physically abused are likely to receive bone fractures, particularly rib fractures, and may have a higher risk of developing cancer. Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as juveniles, 28% more likely to be arrested as adults, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime.
The immediate physical effects of abuse or neglect can be relatively minor (bruises or cuts) or severe (broken bones, hemorrhage, or even death). In some cases the physical effects are temporary; however, the pain and suffering they cause a child should not be discounted. Meanwhile, the long-term impact of child abuse and neglect on physical health is just beginning to be explored. The long-term effects can be:
On the other hand, there are some children who are raised in child abuse, but who manage to do unexpectedly well later in life regarding the preconditions. Such children have been termed , as inspired from the way that dandelions seem to prosper irrespective of soil, sun, drought, or rain. Such children (or currently grown-ups) are of high interest in finding factors that mitigate the effects of child abuse.
A support-group structure is needed to reinforce parenting skills and closely monitor the child's well-being. Visiting home nurse or social-worker visits are also required to observe and evaluate the progress of the child and his/her caretaking situation. The support-group structure and visiting home nurse or social-worker visits are not mutually exclusive. Many studies have demonstrated that the two measures must be coupled together for the best possible outcome. Children's school programs regarding "good touch...bad touch" can provide children with a forum in which to role-play and learn to avoid potentially harmful scenarios. Unintended conception increases the risk of subsequent child abuse, and large family size increases the risk of child neglect. Thus a comprehensive study for the National Academy of Sciences concluded that affordable contraceptive services should form the basis for child abuse prevention. "The starting point for effective child abuse programming is pregnancy planning," according to an analysis for US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.
April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States since 1983. U.S. President Barack Obama continued that tradition by declaring April 2009 Child Abuse Prevention Month. One way the Federal government of the United States provides funding for child-abuse prevention is through Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (CBCAP). Each year during Child Abuse Prevention Month, “often media and commentators take the number of reports to be synonymous with the number of cases of actual child maltreatment; this is obviously not the case”. From the 3.3 million hotline calls (2010), there were less than 475,000 substantiated cases (2010 NCANDS: 436,321 substantiated+24,976 indicated=461,297 total), resulting in about 15% of hotline calls substantiated/indicated, of which 78.3% were for neglect. “Some argue that even many “substantiated reports involve only minor or insignificant matters, which most reasonable people would not truly consider abuse or neglect.”. The 3.3 million annual (hotline) referrals effects on average 1 out of 10 U.S. families with children (There are 32,200,000 U.S. families with children under 18 according to the 2010 U.S. Census) . “Unsubstantiated rates of the current magnitude go beyond anything reasonably needed; a high rate of unsubstantiated reports should concern everyone”, according to Besharov. He further states “each report results in what can be an intrusive and traumatic investigation that is inherently a breach of parental and family privacy. The emotionally charged desire to “do something” about child abuse, fanned by repeated and often sensational media coverage has led to an understandable, but counterproductive over reaction on the part of the professionals and citizens who report child abuse” according to Besharov.
Resources for child-protection services are sometimes limited. According to Hosin (2007), "a considerable number of traumatized abused children do not gain access to protective child-protection strategies." Briere (1992) argues that only when "lower-level violence" of children ceases to be culturally tolerated will there be changes in the victimization and police protection of children.
A number of treatments are available to victims of child abuse. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, first developed to treat sexually abused children, is now used for victims of any kind of trauma. It targets trauma-related symptoms in children including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), clinical depression and anxiety. It also includes a component for non-offending parents. Several studies have found that sexually abused children undergoing TF-CBT improved more than children undergoing certain other therapies. Data on the effects of TF-CBT for children who experienced only non-sexual abuse was not available as of 2006. The purpose of dealing with the thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma is to deal with nightmares, flashbacks and other intrusive experiences that might be spontaneously brought on by any number of discriminative stimuli in the environment or in the individual’s brain. This would aid the individual in becoming less fearful of specific stimuli that would arouse debilitating fear, anger, sadness or other negative emotion.In other words, the individual would have some control or mastery over those emotions.
Abuse-focused cognitive behavioral therapy was designed for children who have experienced physical abuse. It targets externalizing behaviors and strengthens prosocial behaviors. Offending parents are included in the treatment, to improve parenting skills/practices. It is supported by one randomized study.
Rational Cognitive Emotive Behavior Therapy consists of ten distinct but interdependent steps. These steps fall into one of three theoretical orientations (i.e., rational or solution focused, cognitive emotive, and behavioral) and are intended to provide abused children and their adoptive parents with positive behavior change, corrective interpersonal skills, and greater control over themselves and their relationships. They are: 1) determining and normalizing thinking and behaving, 2) evaluating language, 3) shifting attention away from problem talk 4) describing times when the attachment problem isn’t happening, 5) focusing on how family members “successfully” solve problematic attachment behavior; 6) acknowledging “unpleasant emotions” (i.e., angry, sad, scared) underlying negative interactional patterns, 7) identifying antecedents (controlling conditions) and associated negative cognitive emotive connections in behavior (reciprocal role of thought and emotion in behavioral causation), 8) encouraging previously abused children to experience or “own” negative thoughts and associated aversive emotional feelings, 9) modeling and rewarding positive behavior change (with themselves and in relationships), and 10) encouraging and rewarding thinking and behaving differently. This type of therapy shifts victims thoughts away from the bad and changes their behavior.
Child-parent psychotherapy was designed to improve the child-parent relationship following the experience of domestic violence. It targets trauma-related symptoms in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, including PTSD, aggression, defiance, and anxiety. It is supported by two studies of one sample.
Other forms of treatment include group therapy, play therapy, and art therapy. Each of these types of treatment can be used to better assist the client, depending on the form of abuse they have experienced. Play therapy and art therapy are ways to get children more comfortable with therapy by working on something that they enjoy (coloring, drawing, painting, etc.). The design of a child's artwork can be a symbolic representation of what they are feeling, relationships with friends or family, and more. Being able to discuss and analyze a child's artwork can allow a professional to get a better insight of the child.
One of the most challenging ethical dilemmas arising from child abuse relates to the parental rights of abusive parents or caretakers with regard to their children, particularly in medical settings. In the United States, the 2008 New Hampshire case of Andrew Bedner drew attention to this legal and moral conundrum. Bedner, accused of severely injuring his infant daughter, sued for the right to determine whether or not she remain on life support; keeping her alive, which would have prevented a murder charge, created a motive for Bedner to act that conflicted with the apparent interests of his child. Bioethicists Jacob M. Appel and Thaddeus Mason Pope recently argued, in separate articles, that such cases justify the replacement of the accused parent with an alternative decision-maker.
Child abuse also poses ethical concerns related to confidentiality, as victims may be physically or psychologically unable to report abuse to authorities. Accordingly, many jurisdictions and professional bodies have made exceptions to standard requirements for confidentiality and legal privileges in instances of child abuse. Medical professionals, including doctors, therapists, and other mental health workers typically owe a duty of confidentiality to their patients and clients, either by law and/or the standards of professional ethics, and cannot disclose personal information without the consent of the individual concerned. This duty conflicts with an ethical obligation to protect children from preventable harm. Accordingly, confidentiality is often waived when these professionals have a good faith suspicion that child abuse or neglect has occurred or is likely to occur and make a report to local child protection authorities. This exception allows professionals to breach confidentiality and make a report even when the child or his/her parent or guardian has specifically instructed to the contrary. Child abuse is also a common exception to Physician–patient privilege: a medical professional may be called upon to testify in court as to otherwise privileged evidence about suspected child abuse despite the wishes of the child and his/her family.
There are organizations at national, state, and county levels in the United States that provide community leadership in preventing child abuse and neglect. The National Alliance of Children's Trust Funds and Prevent Child Abuse America are two national organizations with member organizations at the state level.
Many investigations into child abuse are handled on the local level by Child Advocacy Centers. Started over 25 years ago at what is now known as the National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Alabama by District Attorney Robert "Bud" Cramer these multi-disciplinary teams have met to coordinate their efforts so that cases of child abuse can be investigated quickly and efficiently, ultimately reducing trauma to the child and garnering better convictions. These Child Advocacy Centers (known as CACs) have standards set by the National Children's Alliance.
Other organizations focus on specific prevention strategies. The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome focuses its efforts on the specific issue of preventing child abuse that is manifested as shaken baby syndrome. Mandated reporter training is a program used to prevent ongoing child abuse.
NICHD, also known as the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development is a broad organization, but helps victims of child abuse through one of its branches. Through the Child Development and Behavior (CDB) Branch, NICHD raises awareness efforts by supporting research projects to better understand the short- and long-term impacts of child abuse and neglect. They provide programs and observe National Child Abuse Prevention Month every April since 1984. The Children’s Bureau leads activities for the Month, including the release of updated statistics about child abuse and neglect, candlelight vigils, and fundraisers to support prevention activities and treatment for victims. The Bureau also sponsors a "Blue Ribbon Campaign," in which people wear blue ribbons in memory of children who have died from abuse, or in honor of individuals and organizations that have taken important steps to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating or within the family. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.
Alcohol consumption and mental illness can be co-morbid with abuse, and present additional challenges in eliminating domestic violence. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differs widely from country to country, and from era to era.
Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy, marriage and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members. It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health.
The different schools of family therapy have in common a belief that, regardless of the origin of the problem, and regardless of whether the clients consider it an "individual" or "family" issue, involving families in solutions often benefits clients. This involvement of families is commonly accomplished by their direct participation in the therapy session. The skills of the family therapist thus include the ability to influence conversations in a way that catalyses the strengths, wisdom, and support of the wider system.
Domestic violence against men refers to abuse against men or boys in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating, or within a family. As with violence against women, the practice is often regarded as a crime but pressures against reporting complicate issues. Laws vary greatly place to place.
Like female domestic violence victims, those that report their abuse to the authorities often face social stigma as well as possibilities of retaliation and other dilemmas. Shelters and help lines exist in many nations to assist both sexes in attracting help. Cultural norms about the treatment of men by women as well as of women by men have varied greatly depending on geographic region and sub-region, even area by area sometimes, and physically abusive behavior of partners against each other is regarded varyingly from being a crime to being a mere personal matter, with a trend twoards fighting domestic violence only starting over the past few decades. Behavior
The phrase violence against women is a technical term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women. Similar to a hate crime, which it is sometimes considered, this type of violence targets a specific group with the victim's gender as a primary motive.
The United Nations General Assembly defines "violence against women" as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life." The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women noted that this violence could be perpetrated by assailants of either gender, family members and even the "State" itself.
In journalism, a human interest story is a feature story that discusses a person or people in an emotional way. It presents people and their problems, concerns, or achievements in a way that brings about interest, sympathy or motivation in the reader or viewer.
Human interest stories may be "the story behind the story" about an event, organization, or otherwise faceless historical happening, such as about the life of an individual soldier during wartime, an interview with a survivor of a natural disaster, a random act of kindness or profile of someone known for a career achievement.