In light of recent allegations against Josh Duggar for sexually abusing five young girls, four of whom were his little sisters, TLC aired a one-hour documentary tonight titled Breaking the Silence, which set out to "shine a light on the challenging journey faced by those affected by child sexual abuse, as well as offer useful information where people can turn for help."
Also appearing in the documentary were Jill and Jessa Duggar, who admitted to being molested by their brother over a decade prior and also starred in the now-cancelled TLC show, 19 Kids and Counting. Surrounding the personal and emotional stories of brave sexual abuse survivors, and in conjunction with anti-abuse nonprofits RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and Darkness to Light (D2L), the special revealed several surprising details and statistics on the issue of child molestation.
According to the documentary:
1. An estimated 42 million Americans are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
The statistics are shocking: One in six boys and one in four girls are victims of sexual abuse. Not only that, but experts say that at least one in 10 children will be abused before their 18th birthday.
2. Most childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by people these children know and trust.
One of the biggest myths surrounding sexual abuse is that it is often perpetrated by a stranger, when in actuality, an astounding 90 percent of sexually abused kids are molested by somebody they know.
3. Kids often believe their parents will be angry if they tell the truth.
Overcome by guilt and shame, many children are scared that they did something wrong and will get in trouble if they come forward. An essential key is to not overreact or appear to blame the child over what happened.
4. There is no one type of sexual abuse victim.
Boy or girl, toddler or teenager -- there is no singular profile for someone who has suffered from sexual abuse. It can truly affect anyone.
5. Research shows that victims of sexual abuse are at greater risk for emotional and mental health problems.
This is especially true for victims who keep the secret for excessively long periods of time. Telling someone, such as a parent, a friend or a teacher, can aide in the journey to healing.
6. Several celebrities have come forward in recent years with their own stories of sexual abuse.
Famous stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Teri Hatcher and Tyler Perry have worked hard to bring an often times taboo topic out into the open.
7. Here are some steps parents can take to help prevent child sexual abuse:
- Learn the facts: Know the people in your child’s life, be it a coach, a teacher or friends.
- Minimize opportunity: More than 80 percent of sexual abuse incidents occur in isolated, one-on-one situations.
- Talk about it: Many children might not have the verbal skills to talk about difficult topics. Teach them how to respect themselves and their bodies.
- Recognize the signs: If a child appears unusually moody, sullen, withdrawn, quiet or has experienced a difference in behavior, these may be signs of sexual abuse.
- React responsibly: If you learn of sexual abuse, remain composed and calm so as not to cause further stress for the child.
You can download the five steps to protecting children at TLC.com/BeTheVoice.