Types of Victimization


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What is Incest?

Incest is any sexual activity between members of the same family, other than a husband and wife. It includes anything from fondling to penetration and can include contact between parents, stepparents, or guardians and their children, between siblings, or among members of the extended family such as grandparents or cousins.
Incest remains one of the most under-reported crimes in America. There are few reliable statistics on incest, however we know that approximately 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the time they turn 18 and that 93% of kids are assaulted by someone they know and trust (RAINN,2013). Often these abusers are family members who are seen as “upstanding” and “respectable” members of the community. Incest occurs to both boys and girls and happens in rich and poor families. Often there are other forms of abuse including physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse, however incest can happen in any family.

What is the Difference Between Incest and Child Sexual Abuse?

Incest is a type of sexual abuse where the perpetrator is someone in the family. While all forms of sexual abuse can have negative effects, incest often has particularly damaging effects. The primary support system for the child is disrupted and the family often cannot provide safety for the child. It can also deeply damage trust and self-esteem since the abuse was at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and care for the child.

Sexual Abuse is NEVER the Fault of the Child

No matter what you believe, a child is NEVER to blame for sexual abuse. Many survivors experience intense guilt or shame for the ways they believe they caused or participated in the abuse, however it is always the fault of the perpetrator. Even if children do not disclose the abuse, it is not their fault. Silence is not consent.

Reasons Victims May Not Disclose

There are many reasons why victims may not disclose abuse including:

  • the victim may believe or have been told that what is happening is normal
  • the victim may love the abuser and not want them to get in trouble
  • the victim may be afraid of what will happen to him or her due to threats from the abuser or other family members
  • the victim may fear getting in trouble or being accused of doing something wrong
  • the victim may not want to disrupt the family
  • the victim may not know who to talk to or how to access help


If you are a survivor of incest, you are not alone. There is hope for healing and recovery.
Evidenced-based mental health treatment can address a wide-range of issues and effects of the abuse. Talk to a counselor about what options are best for you. Seek out support from an organization designed to meet the needs of incest survivors or join a support group. Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Take the first step toward healing today!

What to do if you suspect child sexual abuse or incest

  • If you suspect abuse of any child under 18, you are required to make a report to Child Protective Services at the Dept. of Social Services.
  • If you believe the child is in immediate danger, call 911 or the local police department.
  • Contact The Healing Place for additional guidance and assistance.

Sexual Harassment

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Sexual harassment has, in the past ten years, become more noticeable and talked about. The general public is still confused about what constitutes sexual harassment which leads to more jokes and discussion. Those individuals within the anti violence movement understand the ramifications of being subjected to such abuse and realizes its escalating potential.

Sexual harassment if a form of sexual discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment, when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonable interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Case law interpreting both Title VII and some state laws distinguishes between two broad categories of sexual harassment: “quid pro quo” and “environment sexual harassment”. A quid pro quo claim involves allegations that submission to unwelcome sexual advances or request for sexual favors was made in a condition to getting, keeping or advancing in a job. A hostile environment claim is based on allegations that the company either created or condoned an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment is generally viewed as a more blatant form of sex discrimination than environmental sexual harassment because it results in a tangible economic loss. An example of quid pro quo harassment might involve a supervisor threatening an employee with demotion if s/he failed to acquiesce to his/her sexual advances. Significantly, the alleged harasser need not explicitly state promotion or continued employment on submission to his request. Rather, it is enough that it be implied from the words or conduct used by the alleged harasser. Because of the vagueness of quid pro quo sexual harassment definition, we provide the following examples of conduct that was deemed by different courts to have met the standard:

  1. An employee rejected her male supervisor’s sexual advances and was later fired by higher-level administrator purportedly for calling in sick. A male employee who called in sick the same day was not discharged.
  2. A female resident was discharged from a residency program. She contended that a senior resident had requested a sexual relationship and told her that low-level female residents usually engage in such relationship to ease their way through the residency program.
  3. A female receptionist refused to have sexual relations with a customer and resisted the owner’s sexual advances. It was found that through his remarks, demands and conduct, the owner made it a condition of the employee’s job that she provide sexual favors to him and to his customers.
  4. The U.S. Postal Service was held liable for a supervisor’s sexual harassment of a deaf-mute mail sorter. Although the supervisor never explicitly conditioned job benefits on the granting of sexual favors, the court held that discussions of employment topics, such as attendance, leaves of absence and performance appraisals shortly before asking the employee to engage in oral sex was implicit quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Sexual Favoritism as Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Similar, but potentially more troublesome, is sexual favoritism as quid pro quo harassment. These claims involve allegations by an employee denied a promotion or other job benefit that the employee who received that benefit did so because s/he performed sexual favors for a supervisor. The apparent reason the courts allow such claims is that by the employer allowing sexual favoritism, the employer implies to others that if an employee does not submit to such sexual advances, the employee will not receive an employment benefit. The practical effect for employers is that they can potentially be sued by two or more employees for a single act of course of conduct by a supervisor. Thus, there is extra incentive for an employer to prevent this type of quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Hostile Environment Harassment
Hostile environment claims involve allegations that a company (or its employees) either created or condoned an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Such an environment can be created, for example, by making unwelcome sexual advances, requesting sexual favors, or engaging in other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. A hostile environment exists when an employee’s work environment becomes polluted with unwelcome sexual words or conduct.

When evaluating an employee’s complaint that s/he had been subject to hostile environment sexual harassment, employers will want to keep in mind the elements the employee will have to prove if s/he decide to sue under either Title VII or some state laws.

Hostile Environment claims require the employee to show all the following elements:

  1. That s/he was subjected to a work environment in which there were sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Remember that same-sex harassment is now recognized under federal law;
  2. That the conduct was unwelcome; and
  3. That the conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.

The following are examples of the type of conduct that is prohibited by the statutes governing sexual harassment. You should understand that there is no exhaustive list to which an employer can turn in determining what type of conduct is prohibited.

  • Verbal harassment, including epithets (descriptive name or title, derogatory comments or slurs that are based on sex.
  • Physical harassment, including assault, impeding or blocking movement or any physical interference with normal work or movement when directed at an individual based on sex, or
  • Visual harassment, includes derogatory posters, cartoons, or drawings based on sex.

It should also be noted that non-sexual conduct can support a sexual harassment claim when that conduct is based on sex or gender. In an often cited case, a female police officer sued her employer, alleging that she had been subjected to a campaign of threats, rejections, mockery, and intimidation because of her gender. She did not allege that she was subjected to any overly sexual acts. Even so, the court held that the conduct was actionable because it constituted harassment based on the officer’s gender.

To report a sexual harassment claim
Do not make legal assumptions or give legal advice. Should a caller seek information on how to file a claim, refer them to the North Carolina Department of Labor at 1-800-NC-LABOR (625-2267).

Sexual Assault

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Definition: Sexual contact that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient of the behavior.

Such contact can take the form of:
• Harassment
• Exposing/flashing
• Forcing a person to pose for sexual pictures
• Fondling
• Unwanted sexual touching or penetration with any object

In most extreme cases, sexual assault may involve force which may include, but is not limited to:
• Use or display of a weapon
• Physical battering
• Immobilization of the victim

More often, sexual assault involves psychological coercion and taking advantage of an individual who is under duress or incapacitated and, therefore incapable of making a decision on his/her own (including being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and/or prescription medications).

Physical & Emotional Reactions
• Shock
• Numbness
• Loss of control
• Disorientation
• Helplessness
• Sense of vulnerability
• Fear
• Self-blame/guile for “allowing” the crime to happen
• Feeling that these reactions are a sign of weakness

This section was adapted from materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

Stranger Rape

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3 Major Categories

  1. Blitz sexual assault – the perpetrator rapidly and brutally assaults the victim with no prior contact. Blitz assaults usually occur at night in a public place.
  2. Contact sexual assault – the perpetrator contacts the victim and tries to gain his/her trust and confidence before assaulting him/her. Contact perpetrators pick their victims in bars, lure them into their cars, or otherwise try to coerce the victim into a situation of sexual assault.
  3. Home invasion sexual assault – the perpetrator breaks into the victim’s home to commit the assault.

Physical & Emotional Reactions
• Shock
• Numbness
• Loss of Control
• Disorientation
• Helplessness
• Sense of vulnerability
• Fear
• Self-blame for “allowing” the crime to happen
• Feeling that these reactions are a sign of weakness

This section was adapted from materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.


Definition: Forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object. Rape may be forced through threats, physical force, or psychological coercion.
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In the most extreme cases, rape may involve force which may include, but is not limited to:

  • Use or display of a weapon
  • Physical battering
  • Immobilization of the victim

More often, rape involves psychological coercion and taking advantage of an individual who is under duress or incapacitated, and therefore, incapable of making a decision on his/her own (including being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and/or prescription medications).

Physical & Emotional Reactions

  • Shock
  • Numbness
  • Loss of control
  • Disorientation
  • Helplessness
  • Sense of vulnerability
  • Fear
  • Self-blame/guile for “allowing” the crime to happen
  • Feeling that these reactions are a sign of weakness
This section was adapted from materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.



Sexual Exploitation by Helping Professionals

Definition:  Sexual contact of any king between a helping professional (doctor, therapist, etc.) and a client/patient.  Such behavior is regarded as unethical and, in every licensed profession, can be grounds for malpractice and possible loss of licensure.
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The helping professional starts from a position of great power over the client/patient and has a duty of care to protect the interests of the client/patient and not to serve his/her own needs.  Therapeutic clients are the most susceptible because the client is already vulnerable and trust the therapist to help her/him feel better.  Also the relationship is particularly intimate with clients sharing their innermost thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Issues of Transference
Transference is the way in which a client transfers negative/positive feeling about others to the therapist.  Transference s necessary in all therapeutic relationships.  Counter-transference is when a therapist projects his/her own feelings back onto the client.  A problem exists when the therapist is unable to recognize transference and counter-transference reactions and, instead, responds in a sexual manner.  It often takes several years for the client to recognize the harm done by this type of relationship.

Physical & Emotional Reactions

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of suicide
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, anger, confusion, worthlessness
  • Loss of trust

It is estimated that only 4-8% of survivors report the exploitation.

Three ways survivors can take action:

  • The survivor may make a complaint to the professional’s licensing board.
  • The survivor may hire an attorney and sue the therapist direction in a civil lawsuit.  The best possible outcome is a monetary award.  The burden of proof is on the client.
  • The survivor could make the allegations known to law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office could prosecution in criminal proceedings.  The best possible outcome is a criminal sanction (probation, incarceration).
This section was adapted from materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.


Child Sexual Abuse

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What is child sexual abuse?

(Adapted from The National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse Publication, 1988)
  1. Child sexual abuse refers to sexual activity forced upon someone under 18 years of age. Usually an older individual uses tricks, bribes, threats, or physical force to make a child submit. Children are usually taught that older people have power and authority over them, so children do not feel like they have a choice in such situations. Sexual abuse is much more common than rape, which is forced intercourse. It refers to a wide range of sexual encounters including, but not limited to, exhibitionism or exposure, kissing, fondling, oral sex, rape, and pornography.
  2. Child sexual abuse should not be confused with physical contacts between an adult and a child that are fond or playful expressions of love. Responsible adults automatically limit their physical exchanges with a child, thereby respecting the child and at the same time maintaining a warm, healthy, affectionate relationship.

What is incest?

Incest refers to everything included in child sexual abuse, but indicates that the sexual contact is between family members, such as a child and parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or step-parent.

How many children are actually sexually abused?

Reliable statistics reflecting the incidence of sexual abuse committed against children are difficult to determine. There are many reasons for this vague statistical picture, the most important of which may be that the secrecy and taboo aspect of the offense prevents the majority of incidents from being reported. However, recent research has established the following statistics:Nationally, approximately

  • 1 in 3 girls will be assaulted before adulthood.
  • 1 in 6-8 boys will be assaulted before adulthood.
  • 1 in 25 girls will be assaulted by her father.

Are most sexual offenses against children committed by strangers?

No. In fact, in 85% of all cases, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows. The people most likely to sexually abuse children are their own family members, friends of the family, neighbors, and acquaintances.

Does sexual abuse occur more frequently inside or outside the family?

It occurs more frequently inside the family. Some studies indicate that 70-80% of all abusers are related to their victims.

Is it true that incest occurs mostly among rural, isolated, and uneducated poor families?

No. Incest occurs among all groups of the population — it crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels. It occurs in all races and religions, and in all areas, whether urban or rural.

What are some characteristics of offenders?

Offenders frequently exhibit feelings of inadequacy and of isolation or alienation from others. They are usually concerned only with meeting their own needs, and have low self-esteem.Two other general characteristics common to those who sexually abuse children are:

  1.  lack of impulse control;
  2. a confusion of roles, where the child becomes an object for the needs of the adult without the adult recognizing the inappropriateness or inability of the child to meet those needs.These two dynamics–lack of impulse control and confusion of roles — are also common to child abuse cases in general. Additionally, the practice of incest is frequently passed on from one generation to another.

What are some characteristics of the incestuous family?

Fathers who are abusers are described as being either passive or authoritarian. The passive abuser may have a weak self-image and be introverted and socially isolated. During periods of stress, this person may turn to the child for comfort and reassurance. The authoritative offender is more violent and domineering in his relationship with the entire family. This abuser may be over-controlling, overly restrictive, and employ excessive discipline.Mothers in families where incest occurs are often described as being passive individuals whose dependency on her husband forces her to ignore signs of the incest. Less frequently, the mothers are strong, independent women who may acknowledge the abuse and try to stop it.Other common characteristics are:

  • Prolonged or habitual absence of either the mother or the father from home.
  • Assignment of a “mother” role to a daughter; for example, caring for other children, cooking, looking after father.
  • Loss of wife by divorce, separation, or death.
  • History of child abuse in the background of one or both parents.
  • Condition of overcrowding, alcoholism/drug addiction, intellectual limitation of parents or child.
  • Inability to establish normal social and emotional contacts outside the family because of eccentric belief systems, extreme poverty, or remoteness of the area in which the family lives.

What should you do if you suspect that a child is being sexually abused?

Report it. In North Carolina anyone who suspects that a child is being abused in any way is required by law to report his or her suspicions to the Department of Social Services at (828) 694-5500.

Does a person who reports have any legal protection?

Yes. People who report “in good faith” are granted immunity from civil and criminal court action, even if the report proves to be a mistake.

How sure should someone be before reporting?

There is no rule. If there is serious doubt, resolve that doubt in favor of the child and report. Also, remember that North Carolina law mandates that every adult must report any suspected child abuse, no matter how much or how little she or he knows.

What happens if someone reports?

The Department of Social Services makes an investigation within 24 hours of the report and on the basis of its findings decides whether or not sexual abuse has taken place. In some of the more difficult cases, the DSS may file a petition in court. In these cases the court makes a final resolution. A court may order certain actions; for example, removing the child or offender from the home, mandatory participation of the family in a treatment program, or bringing criminal charges against the offender in criminal court.

Are girls sexually abused more frequently than boys?

Statistics indicate that girls more frequently report sexual abuse, but the number of cases reported with boys as victims appears to be on the increase. Some studies indicate that prepubescent boys may be abused as often as girls. Boys appear more reluctant than girls to seek help. When abused by a male, boys may feel shamed or have fears about homosexuality. When the offender is a women, boys may not report since sexual adventures are sometimes culturally confused with proving one’s manhood and related to a belief that no “real man” refuses sex when it is offered.

Is a child who is the victim of incest likely to report it to the authorities?

No. Loyalty to the family, fear, and the nearly total dependence of the child tend to ensure secrecy. Often, the child has been bribed or threatened to keep silent, or is made to feel that she or he is to blame for the abuse, and will be punished if anyone finds out.

A mother surely must know if her husband or boyfriend is sexually abusing her child? Isn’t she the one most likely to report?

Yes, a mother may know something is wrong, but she may not suspect sexual abuse. Other mothers may be vaguely aware of the incest, but are as threatened by it as their child. If reporting it could further threaten her relationship with her husband or jeopardize her financial position, she may remain silent or deny the incest, thereby becoming an accomplice to it. Many of these mothers were victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse as children. Upon disclosure some mothers actively protect their children. Other mothers may not have the internal or external resources to protect or support their children.

How can I tell whether a child is being sexually abused?

Symptoms of sexual abuse may include physical and behavioral signs as well as indirect comments made by the child. There are several clues to look for when considering the possibility of child sexual abuse. One sign alone may not be a positive indication. If a number are present, it is wise to consider the possibility of abuse.

Physical Indicators

  • Swollen, irritated or bleeding genital area
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy. However, it is common for no physical indicators of abuse to be present. The following list of behavioral indicators should also be taken into consideration.Behavioral Indicators
  • Sleep disturbances; e.g., nightmares, bedwetting, trouble falling asleep, suddenly needing a night light.
  • Loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Loss of or sudden increase in appetite.
  • Lots of new fears, needing reassurance, clinging, not wanting to be left alone.
  • Returning to younger, more babyish behavior.
  • Unusual behavior shift; e.g., from outgoing to withdrawn.
  • Giving up or throwing away a favorite toy, piece of clothing, or other possession.
  • Sudden turning against one parent, relative, etc.
  • Lots of school difficulties or sudden immersion in school.
  • Explicit sexual acting out, obsession with sexual parts or words, inappropriate French kissing, sexual knowledge beyond their age.
  • Vague references to an incident; e.g., “I don’t like Mr. Smith anymore.”
  • Reluctance to go to a particular place or be with a particular person.
  • Irritability, crankiness.
  • Use of drugs, alcohol.
  • Running away.
  • Prostitution.
  • Suicide attempts or self-mutilation.While these symptoms may indicate a problem, they are not confirmation of child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse should, however, be kept in mind as one of the possible causes of these symptoms.

When incest happens, whose fault is it?

The offender bears the entire responsibility; it is not the child’s fault! The offender is usually the key to the disturbed dynamics and is responsible for choosing a sexual relationship with the child. Whatever else is said in sympathy for his/her motivations, and regardless of the rest of the family’s contributions, the offender’s responsibility must be emphasized.

How much harm does a child suffer from sexual abuse?

In all instances of child sexual abuse, one must consider both physical and emotional harm to the child. The degree of harm depends upon the nature of the act(s), the age of the child, the duration of the abuse, the relationship between the child and the abuser, and the child’s general environment. Physical harm may include acute genital pain, transmission of sexually acquired disease, and pregnancy. Emotional harm may elicit feelings of pain, panic, devastation, betrayal, shame, fear, guilt, vulnerability, inability to have children or normal sexual relationships, and erroneous feelings of disfigurement; these may persist throughout the victim’s life.While child sexual abuse may not always lead to permanent injury, it is in the best interests of the child to assume that all sexual experiences are potentially harmful. Research is greatly needed in this area. The implications of harm are now based only on complaints of people already identified as being harmed.Please keep in mind that not all abusers are fathers and not all families are nuclear. There has not been as much research about female abusers or sibling abuse. We don’t have as much information about this type of abuse but that should not leave us to believe that it does not happen.Reactions of Sexually Abused Children Please note that children from different cultural, racial or socioecconomic groups may have different reactions than the ones listed here. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but a starting point.

Females 3-6 years

  • have generally fewer problems than older age groups.
  • parents often have more anxiety, upset, trouble dealing with anger than does the child.
  • problems include nightmares, stomach-aches, nervousness, crying, specific fear of offender and/or general fear of others or of being touched; regressive behaviors such as clinging, thumb-sucking, or bowel problems; sexual acting-out (i.e. taught to them) behaviors such as masturbation, sex play with peers, sexually explicit language, there tend to be more problems which usually cluster around anxiety, fear, crying, clinging, sleep disturbance, and somatic complaints.

 6-9 years

  • more likely to refuse to talk about incidents and/or have trouble expressing feelings about it (beginning to understand sexual aspects creates guilt, shame).
  • all the above problems plus school avoidance and/or disruptive behavior, aggression, eating problems, depression and withdrawal, acting confused.
  • cognitive development of empathy for offender creates greater confusion and ambivalence about who’s to blame.

9-12 years

  • increase in the number and types of problems: frequent nightmares and other sleep disturbances; somatic problems; aloof, withdrawn, depressed.
  • more aware of impact on whole life – no longer seen as an isolated incident
  • tend to feel more responsible for own role, more guilt; may become very preoccupied with incident and see self as “bad.”
  • more anxiety about physical exam and court proceedings.
  • more concerned about reactions and responses of others; may have more relationship problems (aggression, fearfulness, avoidance).

12-16 years

  • this group has more problems than any other age group of girls or boys.
  • most frequent problems include nightmares and sleep disturbances; fears of the offender of more generally of being outside, being alone, or being touched; more frequent and severe somatic complaints; eating problems; poor self-esteem, feelings of body damage, depression, and occasional suicidal thoughts; school problems such as grade deterioration or school avoidance; interpersonal problems such as verbal or physical aggression and difficulties relating to peers and/or members of opposite sex.
  • while younger girls often experience more problems if offender is a stranger, this age group experiences more problems with known offender–probably related to a sense of self-blame and doubt about own role in the situation.
  • assault really interferes with adolescent issues of interpersonal relationships, bodily changes, autonomy–this group is particularly vulnerable to long-term problems.



3-6 years

  • typical problems similar to 3-6 year old girls.
  • tend to engage in more aggressive and negative behaviors than girls (may reflect socialization).
  • most offenders are male, so must consider the issue of same-sex relationships–boy victims always have concerns about their sexuality, i.e. homosexual implications

6-9 years

  • problems similar to 6-9 year old girls, including refusal to talk about incident.
  • in forced situations, tend to view assault as physical hurt rather than sexual
  • must consider same-sex offender issue.
  • these boys sometimes worry about whether they will grow up and assault other children.
  • Males 3-9 years tend to be victimized by offenders known to them–stranger assault is rare.

9-12 years

  • problems similar to 9-12 year old girls, but more acting-out.
  • more worry about aftermath of assault and its implications; poor self-esteem.
  • forced situations lead to more assault-related fears; non-forced situations generally involve victims who are more passive, less able to protect themselves, and vulnerable to future assaults and more likely to need long-term therapy.

12-16 years

  • problems seem to reflect possible personality problems rather than crisis-related fears.
  • tend to be withdrawn and depressed, have low self-esteem; pronounced concern with gender identity concerns; concern with societal expectation that males should be able to protect themselves.

Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

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Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse (CSA) has lifelong effects.  Adults who are survivors of CSA often report a feeling of being “stuck”.  Their efforts to build and manage their lives often seem fruitless, hollow, or even hopeless.  There can be a persistent perception that they are somehow different from others.  They commonly report feeling that they are on the outside looking in or believe that they just don’t belong.

Often, these symptoms are a mystery to the sufferers.  They may not understand the connection between their childhood situation and their adult experience.  Generally, the abuse has either been accepted by the survivor as “normal” or is viewed as something that is better left in the past.  In some cases, the abuse may not be remembered.  Consequently, the significance of symptoms and problems arising from the abuse is often not recognized.

The adult symptoms of childhood abuse can take many forms.  Many adult survivors may:

  • Find it difficult to develop or maintain close personal relationships.
  • Have a strong desire to live in isolation or to “hide out” from life.
  • Endure physical ailments like neck, back, stomach and gynecological problems that persist despite efforts at good self-care.
  • Experience feelings of sadness, fear and anger that often seem unmanageable or overwhelming.
  • Undergo panics, rages, depressions, sleep disorders, or self-mutilation or have suicidal thoughts.
  • Find themselves depending on alcohol, other drugs, or may develop eating disorders to cover feelings of humiliation, shame and low self-esteem.
  • Experience problems like low self-esteem, avoidance of sex, promiscuity, or inability to experience orgasms or erections.
  • Exhibit signs of trauma like panic attacks, numbing of body areas, and feeling of being disconnected from their bodies.

Most of these symptoms are due to the disruption of a healthy psychological development.  An abusive childhood situation interferes with the child’s natural movement toward growth and expansion of his or her experiences.

All children have a right to have their basic needs met. Children need to feel secure in order to learn to trust their environment.  They need support for the development of dreams and wishes.  They need encouragement to be separate unique individuals.  They need a consistent sense of belonging, and of worth from their families and home situations.  Abuse denies these very basic needs.  As a result, adult survivors are often left with a deficit of emotional and practical skills for dealing with their present “grown-up” world.  As a result of having limited opportunities to naturally develop these skills, survivors will frequently develop extraordinarily complex coping mechanisms in their attempts to appear “normal.”  As a child, the survivor may have learned the importance of “pretending that nothing is wrong.”  This coping mechanism allows them to function in society in ways that never allow anyone to guess that they struggle with such pain on the inside.

Some survivors compensate for their feelings of shame or inadequacy by becoming “over-achievers.”  They frequently mask their pain or feelings of fragility so successfully that it becomes all the more important to the survivors that others around them do not discover that they are not really who they pretend to be.  Having not been given appropriate levels of love, care, or attention when they were their true selves as children, they might feel that they will not be given love, care, and attention if they allow their true selves to be seen as adults.

Furthermore, the effects of childhood abuse also tend to recur at important junctions throughout survivors’ lives.  Symptoms undisturbed for years may flare as they enter  serious romances, consider marriage, or become the parent of a child.  Adult survivors may fear the intimacy and responsibility of committed relationships.  Caring for children may arouse memories of the survivors’ unmet childhood needs and lead to sadness and/or depression.  They may fear that they may abuse children the way they were abused.

The death of a parent can also evoke disruptive responses for adult survivors.  Buried feelings toward the parent about the abusive childhood situation can surface at the time of the parent’s death and overwhelm the survivor if she/he is unprepared to handle them.  Other friends and relatives may not know how to be sensitive to the survivor’s feelings and experiences.  They may disbelieve, be unsupportive, or be unresponsive if the survivor discloses.  These reactions can compound the difficulties the survivor is already experiencing.

Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Because our culture regards sexual contact between children and adults as taboo, sexual abuse usually takes place in secret and is kept secret.  Denial of sexual abuse is much stronger than denial of physical or emotional abuse.  Because of the silence surrounding most sexual abuse, children are forced to endure the abuse and it’s effects alone.  As adults, survivors often continue to feel alone and isolated.  They fear exposing the shame, rage, and hurt connected to their childhood experiences.  They tend to blame themselves for the abuse, especially if there was pleasure, comfort, or a sense of caring attached to the incident.  They frequently feel ashamed by the fact that they could not stop they abuse.  In many instances, adult survivors do not have the words to talk about the sexual abuse.  They often do not remember the details but have only a vague feeling of discontent with another family member or friend of the family.  Adult survivors frequently report childhood blackouts in which large chunks of time are forgotten.  The denial of sexual abuse may cause total blocking of the experience, leaving only an intuitive sense that something wrong has happened.

Sexual abuse survivors commonly live with a deep sense of shame.  They may blame themselves for the abuse and fear being blamed by others if they ask for help.  This self-blame is often exacerbated because it is not experienced as a guilty sense of having done  wrong, but as a shameful sense of being  wrong.  Incest survivors are particularly harsh with themselves about causing trouble within the family and believing they deserve to be hurt.

Survivors deal with the sexual abuse in a variety of ways.  They may become over-responsible, believing that they are accountable for everything and must take care of others, often meeting the needs of others before their own.  On the other hand, they may act out against others in manipulative or abusive ways, especially if that is the only way they have learned to get their needs met.  Moreover, the survivor may have developed self-destructive behaviors (substance abuse, eating disorders, acting out sexually, self-mutilation, etc.) as ways to escape from or as attempts to gain control over the pain that stems from the abuse.  Survivors who did not have the resources or opportunities to work through the trauma they experienced are frequently prone to self-hate, self-destructiveness, and feelings of hopelessness.  It is important to remember that many adult survivors of CSA who have come to some sort of resolution with the trauma lead happy, healthy, fulfilled lives.

Barriers to Healing
It is often difficult for adult survivors to seek help.  The following are some of the most common barriers to getting help that they face:

  • Denial that childhood abuse is a problem. Many adult survivors have difficulty connecting their current life situation with earlier childhood abuse. This denial can take many forms: rationalizing, minimizing, intellectualizing, focusing of the problems and shortcomings of others, hoping the problems will take care of itself, feelings that they can take care of their problems on their own.
  • The belief that things can never get better, there is no hope.
  • Fear that they will be consumed by the intensity of their feelings if they begin to deal with the abuse. They often fear the feelings will engulf them or that they will explode if they lose control.
  • Fear and shame about sharing family secrets. Survivors often fear that to get help is to betray and hurt their families, or that they will be punished for exposing family secrets.
  • Fear that they will not be believed because they may not be able to remember the details of their abuse.
  • Inability to blame their parents or other adults for the abuse. We are taught to love and honor our parents and to be respectful of other adults.
  • Fear of taking responsibility for looking at oneself and one’s behvior. It can be much easier for the survivor to continue to blame others for the maladaptive ways that she/he is dealing with the abuse.
  • Fear that there will be nothing left in the advanced stages of healing. This fear is sometimes overwhelming. As survivors strip away all the old negative beliefs that have been the burdensome but familiar foundation for their lives, they begin to feel that everything they’ve ever known is shifting and nothing is certain or sure.

While these barriers are strong ones, they can be overcome.  Consistent, patient, and caring effort is needed by both the survivor and those who are aiding in this healing process.  While it is difficult and often painful to work towards recovery from childhood abuse, healing is possible when survivors have access to a support network that can provide them with nurturance, assistance, and appropriate levels of care.



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Definition:  A person commits the offense of stalking if the person willfully on more than one occasion follows or is in the presence of another person without legal purpose and with the intent to cause death or bodily injury or with the intent to cause emotional distress by placing that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury.

A 1998 National Institute of Justice survey of stalking victims provided the first glimpse into the kinds of tactics stalkers most often employ in the commission of their crimes (Tjaden and Theonnes 1998). What follows are some of the tactics that victims report:

Followed, spied on, stood outside home/work
Made unwanted phone calls
Sent unwanted letters/left unwanted items
Vandalized property
Killed/threatened to kill a pet

While most of these alone may not explicitly communicate a threat, the number, nature and context in which they occur may well communicate an implied threat.

Stalking Statutes

§ 14-277.3. Stalking. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A person who commits the offense of stalking when there is a court order in effect prohibiting similar behavior is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction for stalking occurring within five years of a prior conviction of the same defendant is punishable as a Class I felony.”

Relationships between Stalkers and their Victims

 As mentioned above, stalking is most often about “relationships” –prior, desired or imagined. Therefore, it is critical to know about any prior relationship between the victim and the offender. The NIJ study indicates that the clear majority of stalkers and their victims (60%) had a personal relationship before the stalking began. The majority of these cases (42%) involved spouses, or partners and another 14% had a dating relationship. In more thank 4% of these case, the stalker and the victim were actually related to one another. Nearly 18% of stalkers were acquaintances or co-workers of the victim, while only 22% were complete strangers (Tjaden and Theonnes 1998).

Nevertheless, the relationships between victims and offenders often follow broad, distinct patterns, allowing forensic psychologists to use the relationship between stalkers and victims as a means of categorizing stalking behavior and stalking cases.  Still, it is important to keep in mind that some cases do not follow any pattern and may shift between categories as they evolve. Thus, these categories are only useful as broad guidelines to aid in the discussion and analysis of stalking as an emerging category of crime.

Categories of Stalking


This category represents 60% of all stalking cases. It includes all cases arising from previous personal relationships (i.e. those between husbands/wives, girlfriends/boyfriends, domestic partners, etc.) Many simple obsession cases are actually extensions of a previous pattern of domestic violence and psychological abuse. The only difference is that the abuse occurs in different surroundings and through slightly altered tactics of intimidation. Thus, the dynamics of power and control that underlie most domestic violence cases are often mirrored in simple obsession stalking cases.

Stalking behaviors observed in many domestic violence cases are motivated by the stalker’s lack of self-esteem and feelings of powerlessness. They attempt to raise their own self-esteem by demeaning and demoralizing those around them—usually their former spouses. The exercise of power and control over the victim gives stalkers a sense of power and self-esteem that they otherwise lack. When victims attempt to remove themselves from such controlling situations, stalkers often feel that their power and self-worth have been taken from them. This is when stalkers have the potential to become violent—they may feel like “they have nothing to lose” and become more dangerous.


In this category, stalkers and victims are casual acquaintances (neighbors, co-workers) or even complete strangers (fan/celebrity). Primarily, stalkers in this category seek to establish a personal relationship with the object of their obsession—contrary to the wishes of their victims. Love obsession stalkers tend to have low self-esteem and often target victims who they perceive to have exceptional qualities and high social standing. These stalkers seek to raise their own self-esteem by associating with those whom they hold in high regard.

Love obsession stalkers become so focused on establishing a personal relationship with their victims that they often invent detailed fantasies of nonexistent relationship. They literally script the relationship as if it were a stage play. When the victims choose not to participate in the stalker’s imagined passion play, the stalker may try to force victims into assigned roles. Often this type of stalker is so desperate to establish a relationship—any relationship—that they “settle” for negative relationships, explaining why some stalkers are willing to engage in destructive or violent behavior in an irrational attempt to “win the love” (more likely attention) of their victims.


By definition, erotomaniacs are delusional and consequently, virtually all suffer from mental disorders—most often schizophrenia. Unlike simple and love obsession stalkers who seek to establish or reestablish a relationship with their victim, erotomaniacs delude themselves into believing that such a relationship already exists.

Though relatively rare, erotomania stalking cases often draw public attention because the target is usually a public figure or celebrity. Like the other types of stalkers, erotomaniacs attempt to garner self-esteem and status by associating themselves with well-known individuals who hold high social status. While the behavior of many erotomaniacs never escalates to violence, or even to threats of violence, the irrationality that accompanies their mental illness presents particularly unpredictable threats to victims.


The final category is fundamentally different from the other three. Vengeance stalkers do not seek a personal relationship with their targets. Rather, they attempt to elicit a particular response or change of behavior from their victims. When vengeance is their prime motive, stalkers seek only to punish their victims for some wrong they perceive the victim has visited upon them. In other words, they use stalking as a means to “get even” with their enemies (i.e. Employees stalking employers after being fired).

A second type of vengeance or terrorist stalker, the political stalker, has motivations that parallel those of more traditional terrorists. That is, stalking is a weapon of terror used to accomplish a political agenda.

Impact on Victims

Loss of sleep
Loss of appetite/ weight loss
Difficulty concentrating
Loss of trust in friends/family/co-workers
Lost wages

Response Strategies

If you are in imminent danger, locate a safe place
Police station
Residence of family/friend (if location is unknown to perpetrator)
Domestic violence shelters/churches
Public areas (stalkers may be less inclined toward violence in public areas)

***If departure from current location is not possible, call 911

Restraining orders – If violated, stalkers can face incarceration, a fine, or both
Typically obtained through the district attorney’s or prosecutor’s office

Anti-stalking laws / Documentation and evidence collection

Documentation of stalking should be saved and given to law enforcement
Documentation of the perpetrators’ actions may be useful in future complaints or proceedings for evidentiary
Documentation may include photos of destroyed property/vandalism or any injury inflicted on the victim by the perpetrator; answering machine messages saved on tape; letters/notes; affidavits from witnesses; other materials
All materials should be kept in a safe place to prevent theft by perpetrator

Local victim advocate/crisis counselor

Domestic violence shelters/counselors

Rape crisis counselors

Victim advocates at Advocacy centers (THP)

District attorney’s office

Local law enforcement

Preventative measures

Install dead bolts. If you cannot account for all keys, change locks
Install adequate outside lighting
Maintain unlisted phone number
Treat any threats as legitimate and inform law enforcement
Vary routes taken and limit time spent walking alone
Inform a trusted neighbor regarding situation. Provide them with a photo or description of the suspect and any possible vehicles he/she may drive
Have co-workers screen calls/visitors
When out, stay in public areas and try not to travel alone

Contingency plans: When victims are not in imminent danger, they still could be a risk at any time. For this reason, a contingency plan may be appropriate. Victims should consider—

Having quick access to critical numbers and locations of:
Law enforcement agencies
Safe places
Individuals to be contacted after safety is secured (family, neighbors, friends, etc.)
Keeping a reserve of necessities that is easily accessible:
A packet suitcase in the car or another ready location for quick departure
Other necessary items such as bank and credit card information, creditor’s numbers, medical insurance, and birth certificates as well as personal welfare items including medications
A ready means of transportation (keep gas in the car, have money for a taxi, etc) and back up keys for neighbors
Alerting the following critical people of the situation and potential crisis:

  • Law enforcement
  • Employers
  • Family/friends/neighbors
  • Security personnel


Trafficking and Globalization

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Sex trafficking simultaneously exploits both the best and the worst aspects of globalization. The champions of globalization tout the growing ease of conducting business across national borders. Sophisticated communication tools and relaxed banking laws make it possible to exchange assets internationally with ease. Virtual enterprises can operate everywhere and nowhere, making themselves known only when and where they choose.

Organized crime syndicates take advantage of these tools to create more efficient overseas networks. Although most trafficking originates with local operators, they deftly connect to an international sex industry looking to fill slots in brothels, massage parlors, strip joints, and lap dance bars.

A club owner in Chicago can pick up the phone and “mail-order” three beautiful young girls from eastern Europe. Two weeks later a fresh shipment of three Slavic girls will be dancing in his club. Though a number of quasi-independent traffickers were likely involved in moving the girls, the operation would appear seamless to the Chicago client.

The critics of globalization point out that capital flows wherever it can most easily exploit cheap labor. The owners of capital will abandon a specific location quickly once one of two conditions occurs: (1) the assets it exploits are depleted, or (2) those assets can be obtained more cheaply in other markets.

Sex trafficking also manifests itself in this form. Over the past three decades, the prime area for recruiting sex slaves has shifted rapidly from one zone of economic depression to another. In the 1970s, traffickers targeted girls from Southeast Asia “above all Thailand and Vietnam” as well as the Philippines. After ten years or so of mining in Asia, traffickers shifted their focus to African girls from Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana flooded the international sex bazaars. In the mid-1980s and spilling over into the early 1990s, Latin American girls from Brazil, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Central America (especially El Salvador and Guatemala) became the favored pool.

Traffickers move opportunistically to prey on vulnerable populations. In the 1980s, the trafficking of girls out of eastern Europe hardly registered on the radar screen. Following the economic and political collapse of the Soviet Union, that situation changed dramatically. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that roughly a quarter of a million females were trafficked within Europe alone “from East to West” since 1991.

Even within eastern Europe, the prime recruitment zones for trafficking shift rapidly to exploit opportunities. In 1992, the vast majority of trafficked victims came from Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. By the mid-1990s girls in those markets had been depleted, so traffickers started targeting Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Moldova. After the turn of the century, the prime recruitment zone shifted to central Asia “Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan” and Georgia.

Wherever the greatest profit can be extracted, there the traffickers move. In an impassioned speech delivered in Brussels, European commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou aptly characterized the “ruthless efficiency” of these modern-day traders in human property:

“They know their business inside out and respond to changes in the market with a speed unmatched by even the most competitive corporations. Their expertise and ability to exploit the market are surpassed only by their disregard for human life. Women are bought, sold and hired out like any other product. The bottom line is profit.”

Red Flags for Spotting Human Trafficking

Some indicators raise a red flag that a person may be a victim of human trafficking. Take notice in situations where a person

  • Appears to be under someone else’s control.
  • They appear to be under surveillance at all times.
  • All or most contacts with family, friends, and professionals are controlled and monitored.
  • Do not manage their own money or money is largely controlled by someone else.
  • Are not in control of their own identification or travel documents.
  • Work excessive hours.
  • Are unpaid for their work or paid very little. Live with multiple people in a very cramped space.
  • Live with their employer.
  • Have little/no English language skills or knowledge of the local community.
  • Appear to have little privacy or are rarely alone.
  • Have visible injuries or scars, such as cuts, bruises, or burns.
  • May have injuries around the head, face, and mouth from being struck in the head or face. (Sex slaves’ scars tend to be hidden, as on the lower back).
  • Have untreated illnesses or infections. Examples: Diabetes, cancer, TB.
  • May have general poor health and/or diseases associated with unsanitary living conditions.
  • Have STDs, HIV/Aids, pelvic pain/inflammation, rectal trauma, urinary difficulties, abdominal or genital trauma.
  • Use drugs – victims are often given drugs to keep them dependent.
  • Exhibit submissive behavior or fearful behavior in the presence of others.
  • Exhibit emotional distress such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, phobias, disorientation, self-inflicted injuries or suicide attempts.
  • Engage in prostitution or living in a brothel.
  • Are sexually exploited in strip clubs, massage parlors, pornography.
  • Are branded with a tattoo of a man’s name or “Daddy.”
  • Exhibit feelings of helplessness, shame, humiliation, shock, denial or disbelief.
  • Are pregnant as a result of rape or prostitution.

Additionally, for minors, if they

  • Talk about an older boyfriend or sex with an older man/boyfriend.
  • Use words associated with the commercial sex industry.
  • Hang around commercial sex businesses like strip clubs, massage parlors, adult book/video stores.
  • Have stunted growth, or poorly formed or rotting teeth.

Also note:

  • It is important to talk to potential victims in a safe and confidential environment. If the victim is accompanied by someone who seems to have control over them, discretely attempt to separate the person from the individual accompanying him/her, without arousing suspicion, since this person could be the trafficker.
  • As needed, enlist the help of a professional who speaks the potential victim’s language and understands his or her culture.
  • Do not collect more information than you need! In depth interviews with the potential victim should be conducted by mental health professionals, law enforcement professionals or legal experts. Multiple interviews may confuse and/or re-traumatize victims and may put you, as a service provider, at risk of being subpoenaed as a witness.
  • Anyone under 18 who engages in commercial sex (porn or prostitution) is legally a severe trafficking victim. Force, fraud or coercion does not need to be present as in the case of someone over 18.


Source:  www.notforsalecampaign.org


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