Child Sexual Abuse – Revictimization
One of the most tragic aspects of child sexual abuse is the fact that sexually abused children are at a drastically increased risk of being victims of molestation and rape later in life than children who were not abused.
This is called revictimization.
According to Victims of Crime, children who were victims of rape or attempted rape during adolescence are 13.7 times more likely to experience rape or attempted rape during their first year of college than the general population.
Additional research suggests that two out of every three sexually abused victims will be revictimized at some point in their life.
With statistics as alarming as these, it is clear that we have failed to enact appropriate measures to prevent revictimization. As such, researchers have begun to work to better understand the root causes of victimization.
By understanding the root causes of revictimization, we can begin to work towards curbing the epidemic and sparing past victims from future crimes.
Why Does Revictimization Occur?
Healthcare experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, and even child abuse victims themselves have all sought to determine why the phenomenon of revictimization occurs – why is a child who was sexually abused more likely to be abused again later in life.
Some researchers assert that children who are abused may never have learned to create safe and appropriate boundaries. Such an inability is not their fault, but the product of a damaged self image.
Further, multiple studies show that victims of all kinds of child abuse may be compelled to re-enact their previous trauma. Such behavior is not based on a desire to be revictimized, but rather a hope by the victim that they may experience a different, better outcome, potentially regaining a sense of control that was lost during their initial abuse.
A final aspect that contributes to revictimization is termed traumatic bonding. This occurs when an abused child becomes reliant on the person who committed their abuse. This is due to the perpetrator of the abuse convincing the victim that they are the only ones who can give them a sense of specialness or being loved. Traumatic bonding is also associated with victims of spousal abuse.