NewsStudy shows: Sexual abuse in families not dealt with...

Study shows: Sexual abuse in families not dealt with enough

Cases of sexual violence in families are repeatedly uncovered. A new study shows how difficult these situations are, especially for children.

Berlin – It is particularly difficult for children to escape sexual abuse in families. Many families can easily isolate themselves from the outside world and thus prevent outside help and intervention – this is the result of a study of reports on acts over the past decades. The investigation of the independent commission to come to terms with child sexual abuse was presented on Tuesday (September 7th, 2021) in Berlin. There is a great reluctance to interfere with the family. That said the chairman of the commission and author of the study, Sabine Andresen, said.

Apparently, many people would think that it was none of their business what was going on behind a family’s front door, said Andresen. This shyness was also present among the youth welfare offices, victims of abuse of the commission reported. The perpetrators convey to the children that everything that happens in the family stays in the family. “For the children as victims in the families, there were no official contact persons for calls for help.” Further processing is urgently necessary, said Andresen. This particularly applies to the youth welfare offices and their work in recent years.

Study on sexual violence in families: 870 reports evaluated

870 reports were evaluated in the study. The perpetrators were mostly men and the victims mostly girls. 87 percent male and 13 percent female perpetrators were found in the study. Sexual abuse includes rape, but also acts such as rubbing and touching clothes. Almost half of the 1153 reported perpetrators (48 percent) were biological fathers, foster fathers and stepfathers. The victims also named grand- and step-uncle, brothers, grandfathers and other relatives. Ten percent of the perpetrators and accomplices were mothers.

The independent commission to deal with child sexual abuse was convened by the federal government in 2016 and has already published several reports. Of the 870 reports of abuse in families, 816 were cases from victims, 35 from relatives and 19 from other contemporary witnesses. 680 reports were made orally and 190 in writing.

Study on sexual violence in families: 89 percent are girls

Nearly 89 percent of the victims were girls and female adolescents and 10 percent were male. In some cases, gender was not given. The youngest people to approach the Commission were between 16 and 21 years old and the oldest between 76 and 80 years old. Most of the reports were from people between the ages of 40 and 60.

According to the study, the victims were threatened, beaten or beaten by the perpetrators. Other family members, especially mothers, often did not help them and tolerated the abuse. There was also a lack of help from schools or youth welfare offices. Affected people reported that they were not taken seriously as children and that they were not believed when asked for help.

Study on sexual violence in families: Little information about the actual prevalence

The Commission’s reports to date have provided little information on the actual spread of sexual violence against children. According to the Commission, there is not enough reliable data on this overall. A study by the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony in 2011 showed that around 7 percent of the women surveyed and 1.5 percent of the men surveyed reported experiences as victims. The majority of cases of sexual abuse occurred before the age of 14 and in the family.

In an interview, the Hessian ombudsman Meinhard Korte advises victims of sexual abuse to report the incidents. Ralf Stammberger, Head of Education in the Diocese of Limburg, speaks about the increasing demand for Catholic schools despite the abuse scandal. (Luisa Ebbrecht)

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