Mission Statement

We believe that survivors of sexual abuse (SA) have the right to be aware of potential health consequences of their abuse. We affirm that the public should know about the prevalence of sexual abuse, America’s secret and silent epidemic and arguably one of America’s most serious health problems, and its relationship with mental and physical disease. We hope to make families of SA survivors aware of such health problems and the family’s critical role in supporting the survivor and insisting that the perpetrator seek appropriate therapy. It is our mission to help the SA survivor to learn methods to stay healthy and prevent health problems associated with this abuse.

Goals

  1. To let each SA survivor know that it’s OK to tell someone about the abuse; that it’s not his or her fault; that there’s no need to feel guilty or ashamed.

  2. To help the survivor learn to love herself or himself.

  3. To establish a national listing of treatment centers for SA survivors. To allow survivors and researchers to network.

  4. To raise funds: for research in sexual abuse and its health consequences and therapy, for centers that offer support for survivors of sexual abuse, and for production and nationwide distribution of pamphlets on SA awareness to high school students.

  5. To establish a national awareness day of healing for SA survivors. To communicate this day to communities in the USA through the national network of treatment centers.

  6. To stimulate media coverage to enhance public awareness of SA issues, associated health problems, and preventive measures.

  7. To send a packet of information on the health and social consequences of sexual abuse to prosecuting attorneys and judges: first in Ohio, then throughout the USA. Once educated about what diseases are linked to sexual abuse, these attorneys and judges can take appropriate legal action against sexual offenders and recommend preventive therapy for the survivor.

  8. To build a wellness center in the Cincinnati area for the purpose of education, prevention, and therapeutic programs for survivors of sexual abuse. This center can offer a needed community service, considering the large market of these survivors (350,000) in this area.

The Silent Epidemic

An incident of sexual abuse happens every 2.5 minutes in the USA, according to statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice. Over 200,000 Americans are victims of sexual abuse (SA) every year. This statistic may be less than the actual number of cases, due to the tendency to victims not to report their abuse to authorities. These numbers dwarf any other social problem in America. Medical studies and surveys show that about 20-30 percent of women and about ten percent of men have been sexually abused by the age of 18.

Females in high school and college are four times more likely to be sexually abused more than any other group. Although SA comes in many forms, rape is the most serious and is ranked by the FBI as a violent crime, second only to murder.

The social and health ramifications of SA are significant and contribute to generally poor quality of life for survivors. Social problems include alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, smoking, unintended pregnancy, criminal behavior, and prostitution. Psychological problems include anxiety, depression, bulimia, anorexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, sleep disturbances, and suicide. Physical diseases associated with SA survivors include cancer, heart disease, obesity, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal distress, genito-urinary disorders, chronic pain, diabetes, arthritis, migraines/headaches, and skin disturbances.


Fortunately with early intervention and appropriate therapy, these unhealthy outcomes can be prevented. Unfortunately the unfounded guilt and shame experienced by most SA survivors fosters ignorance and this barrier fosters the predictable development of disease into “America’s silent epidemic.” Cultural barriers, possibly originating in the early Puritanistic founding of this country, still emblazon a scarlet letter on the topic of sexual abuse. Also, medical studies on this topic are generally not well publicized. So few SA survivors understand their health risks.

The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) medical studies shed light on health problems associated with childhood abuse. Dr. Vincent Felitti, based at the Kaiser Permanente HMO in San Diego, mailed over 13,000 questionnaires asking about adverse childhood experiences to patients seen in their clinic. Over 9,500 completed the questionnaire, giving researchers a wealth of information to evaluate. The Center for Diseases Control, the national health watchdog in Atlanta, partnered with the Felitti group to help analyze the data. This collaboration resulted in over 40 articles published in respected medical journals. Sadly this information was not publicized extensively and is virtually unknown to SA survivors.

Hence, one of the major purposes of this foundation and its website is to provide free access to health information and medical studies regarding social, psychological, and physical disease outcomes of SA. With the recent advances in psychoneuroimmunology, we can now understand biological pathways between the chronic distress of SA and disease. Many effective stress management techniques can help SA survivors to prevent future health problems.

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American Foundation For Healing For Survivors Of Sexual Abuse, a registered 501(c)(3) foundation.
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