Advocacy and education are important parts of Turning Point Women’s Counseling and Advocacy Center.
Three key goals of our mission are the following:
- To educate the community about child sexual abuse, the statistics, the stigma and the emotional damage that results from silence and secrecy.
- To advocate for rights for survivors of child sexual abuse.
- To provide information and referrals to child sexual abuse survivors regarding their legal rights.
We frequently receive phone calls inquiring about child sexual abuse statistics,
questions about pending legislation in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and current law
regarding statute of limitations to bring lawsuits.
This page is designed to provide general information on these topics.
- Approximately 30% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities. 
- 9.3% of cases of maltreatment of children in 2012 were classified as sexual abuse.
- 62,939 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in 2012. 
- According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Criminal Victimization Survey, in 2012, there were 346,830 reported rapes or sexual assaults of persons 12 years or older. 
- In 2010, 12% of rapes and sexual assaults involved a weapon. 
- In 2010, 25% of the female victims of rape/sexual assault were victimized by strangers. 
- According to “Have Sexual Abuse and Physical Abuse Declined Since the 1990s?” an article released by the Crimes Against Children Research Center in 2012: 
- There was a 56% decline in physical abuse and a 62% decline in sexual abuse from 1992 to 2010.
- Despite some skepticism of reporting methods by various agencies, declines in child physical and sexual abuse since the 1990s, as reported to National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), reflect a true decline in prevalence.
- The decline in sexual abuse in NCANDS was consistent with other data sources.
- About 20 million out of 112 million women (18.0%) in the United States have been raped during their lifetime. 
- Only 16% of all rapes were reported to law enforcement. 
- In 2006 alone, 300,000 college women (5.2%) were raped. 
- Among college women, about 12% of rapes were reported to law enforcement. 
- A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey on the national prevalence of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking found:
- 81% of women who experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short- or long-term impacts. 
- About 35% of women who were raped as minors also were raped as adults, compared to 14% of women without an early rape history. 
- 28% of male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger. 
- In a 2012 maltreatment report, of the victims who were sexually abused, 26% were in the age group of 12–14 years and 34% were younger than 9 years. 
- Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault. 
- Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. 
- 35.8% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 17. 
- 82% of all juvenile victims are female. 
- 69% of the teen sexual assaults reported to law enforcement occurred in the residence of the victim, the offender, or another individual. 
- Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 ½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. 
- Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. 
Disclosure Among Victims
- Not all sexually abused children exhibit symptoms—some estimate that up to 40% of sexually abused children are asymptomatic; however, others experience serious and long-standing consequences. 
- A common presumption is that children will give one detailed, clear account of abuse. This is not consistent with research; disclosures often unfold gradually and may be presented in a series of hints. Children might imply something has happened to them without directly stating they were sexually abused—they may be testing the reaction to their “hint.” 
- If they are ready, children may then follow with a larger hint if they think it will be handled well. 
- It is easy to miss hints of disclosure of abuse. As a result, a child may not receive the help needed. 
- Disclosure of sexual abuse is often delayed; children often avoid telling because they are either afraid of a negative reaction from their parents or of being harmed by the abuser. As such, they often delay disclosure until adulthood. 
- Males tend not to report their victimization, which may affect statistics. Some men even feel societal pressure to be proud of early sexual activity, regardless of whether it was unwanted. 
- Studies of adults suggest that factors such as the relationship to the perpetrator, age at first incident of abuse, use of physical force, severity of abuse, and demographic variables, such as gender and ethnicity, impact a child’s willingness to disclose abuse. 
- When children do disclose: 
- It is frequently to a friend or a sibling.
- Of all other family members, mothers are most likely to be told. Whether or not a mother might be told will depend on the child’s expected response from the mother.
- Few disclose abuse to authorities or professionals.
- Of all professionals, teachers are the most likely to be told.
- Historically, professionals promoted the idea that children frequently report false accounts of abuse. Current research, however, lacks systematic evidence that false allegations are common. Recantations of abuse are also uncommon. 
Abuse via Technology
- Approximately 1 in 7 (13%) youth Internet users received unwanted sexual solicitations. 
- 9% of youth Internet users had been exposed to distressing sexual material while online. 
- Predators seek youths vulnerable to seduction, including those with histories of sexual or physical abuse, those who post sexually provocative photos/videos online, and those who talk about sex with unknown people online. 
- 1 in 25 youths received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make offline contact. 
- In more than one-quarter (27%) of incidents, solicitors asked youths for sexual photographs of themselves. 
- The most common first encounter of a predator with an Internet-initiated sex crimes victim took place in an online chat room (76%). 16
- In nearly half (47%) of the cases involving an Internet-initiated sex crimes victim, the predator offered gifts or money during the relationship-building phase. 
- Internet-based predators used less deception to befriend their online victims than experts had thought. Only 5% of the predators told their victims that they were in the same age group as the victims. Most offenders told the victims that they were older males seeking sexual relations. 
- 15% of cell-owning teens (12–17) say they have received sexually suggestive nude/seminude images of someone they know via text. 
- Girl laying on the grass looking up at a cell phone
- Of respondents to a survey of juvenile victims of Internet-initiated sex crimes, the majority met the predator willingly face-to-face and 93% of those encounters had included sexual contact. 
- 72% of teenagers and young adults believe that digital abuse is something that should be addressed by society. 
- 11% of teenagers and young adults say they have shared naked pictures of themselves online or via text message. Of those, 26% do not think the person whom they sent the naked pictures to shared them with anyone else. 
- 26% of teenagers and young adults say they have participated in sexting (12 different forms of sexting were examined), a 6% decline since 2011. 
- Nearly 40% of young people in a relationship have experienced at least one form of abuse via technology. A large majority (81%) say they rarely or never feel their significant other uses technology to keep tabs on them too often. 
Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse
- An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, child care providers, neighbors.
- About 30% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members.
- Only about 10% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child.
- Not all perpetrators are adults—an estimated 23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18.
- Fact Sheet: What You Need to Know About Sex Offenders (pdf)
Pending legislation on statute of limitations
When an adult survivor discloses her/his abuse and begins her/his healing journey, the
question that often arises is: can criminal charges be filed against my abuser? Determining if the survivor is within the
statue of limitations can be confusing and somewhat daunting. The first step a survivor
needs to take to determine if a criminal lawsuit is possible is to call the District Attorney’s
Office in the County in which the abuse occurred. The DA determines whether to bring criminal charges and
whether the statute of limitations still allows time to file charges.
FAQs On Statute of Limitations in Child Abuse Cases
Q: How long does the Commonwealth now have to file criminal charges in a criminal
case involving child abuse?
A: In general the statute of limitations was extended in 2007 to give the Commonwealth
until the child victim’s 50th birthday, to file charges.
Q: What bill extended the statute of limitations in criminal
child abuse cases?
A: The statute of limitations was extended as part of a comprehensive
package of amendments to various statutes related to child abuse. The
amendment to 42 Pa.C.S.A. 5552(c)(3) is found in Act 179 of 2006
(formerly Senate Bill 1054).
Q: When does the change in the statute of limitations take effect?
A: The law became effective January 28, 2007.
Q: What criminal charges are covered?
A: As in prior law, the special statute of limitations for sexual
offenses committed against minors applies to the following charges:
rape, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent
assault, indecent exposure, incest, endangering the welfare of children,
corruption of minors, sexual abuse of children, sexual exploitation of children.
Q: What cases will benefit from passage of 2007 legislation to extend the statute of limitations?
A: The new statute of limitations applies to any case in which the
statute of limitations had not yet expired before the new law took effect.
Pursuant to Com. v. Harvey, 542 A.2d 1027 (Pa. Super. 1988), time for
prosecution may be extended by a legislative change if the prior period
has not yet expired. To determine whether the statute has expired, the
date of the victim’s 18th birthday is more important than the date of
the commission of the offense.
On August 27, 2002, the statute of limitations for child sexual
abuse was extended to 12 years after the victim’s 18th birthday.
(Before that amendment, the statute of limitations was 5 years after
the victim’s 18th birthday). That change in the statute of limitations
applied to cases in which a child victim turned 18 on or after August 27,
2002. Since the 12-year period has not yet expired before the new law
took effect, the statute of limitations for cases under the 2002
amendment has now been extended to the victim’s 50th birthday.
For cases involving child victims who turn 18 on or after August 27,
2002, the Commonwealth now has until the victim’s 50th birthday to
file criminal charges for abuse that occurred before the victim turned 18.
Source: Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
Pennsylvania’s recent history regarding statute of limitations law:
- Before 1991, child sexual assault victims were given two years to report inappropriate touching and five years to report a greater abuse such as sodomy or rape.
- In 1991, lawmakers extended the statute, giving victims until their 23rd birthday to press charges in major sexual assaults, and until their 20th for lesser crimes such as inappropriate touching.
- In 2002, the time frame for the most serious attacks was lengthened to 12 years after the victim’s 18th birthday.
- In 2007, the statute was extended to give the Commonwealth until the child victim’s 50th birthday.
Source: Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
Why child victims often report years later:
- Adult victims are often motivated to pursue civil or criminal action when they learn that their perpetrator still has access to children in her/his job or personal life.
- Child victims often do not discover the connection between their psychological difficulties and their experiences of being sexually abused as a child until well into adulthood.
- People who commit sexual offenses often invest a lot of effort into grooming and manipulating victims, who are taught to believe that the abuse is their fault and that they will be in trouble if they disclose. It may take time for the victim to understand what happened to them.
- Some victims worry that disclosing their abuse will cause upheaval or turmoil in their families.
- Most victims fear that they won’t be believed.
- More than 90 percent of child victims know their offender, and these offenders are often adults who have power over the child or have won the child’s trust, as well as the trust of other adults around the victim
- People who sexually abuse children often give mixed messages to the child I love you/I am entitled to abuse you. This is the person that the child has been taught to love, respect and trust, and it is difficult for a child to disentangle these messages.
Source: Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
Current legislation before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) advocates that the statue of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse be eliminated both in civil and criminal cases. The Pennsylvania legislature has proposed a host of bills to do so. Many other states have already eliminated statutes of limitations.
State Representative Mark Rozzi introduced his H.B. 2067 that would suspend the civil statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse who have not yet reached 50 years old. The measure would allow victims the opportunity to seek civil recourse from their perpetrators and would permanently remove the civil and criminal statute of limitations involving child sexual abuse.
“It takes victims years if not decades to acknowledge the abuse. We need to give them the opportunity to seek justice and protect future generations of children by bringing action against perpetrators,” Rozzi said.
Presently PA House Bill 2067 is with the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee for review. Below is a list of the Representatives who serve on the Judiciary Committee and their contact information if you wish to express your support this Bill passing. You are also encouraged to contact your local Representative to express your support for these Bills as well.
House Judiciary Committee
|Republican Members||Democrat Members|
|Marsico, Ron, Chair (717) 783-2014||Caltagirone, Thomas (717) 787-3525|
|Cutler, Bryan (717) 783-6424||Barbin, Bryan (717) 783-1491|
|Delozier, Sheryl M (717) 783-5282||Bradford, Matthew (717) 772-2572|
|Ellis, Brian (717) 787-7686||Brown, Vanessa lowery (717) 783-3822|
|Grell, Glen (717) 783-2063||Costa, Dom (717) 783-9114|
|Hackett, Joseph (717) 260-6168||Dean, Madeleine (717) 783-7619|
|Keller, Mark (717) 783-1593||Kula, Deberah (717) 772-1858|
|Krieger, Timothy (717) 260-6146||Neuman, Brandon (717) 783-4834|
|Neill, Bernie (717) 705-7170||Sabatina, John (717) 772-4032|
|Regan, Mike (717) 783-8783||White, Jesse (717) 783-6437|
|Rock, Todd (717) 783-5218|
|Saccone, Rick (717) 260-6122|
|Stephens, Todd (717) 260-6163|
|Toepel, Marcy (717) 787-9501|
|Toohil, Tarah 717) 260-6136|
Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse
SOL Reform News | Professor Marci A. Hamilton
Ad seeks to apply pressure lawmakers to act swiftly to lift statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases
By Jan Murphy, Patriot-News – October 8th, 2013
A chance ‘to seek justice’
By Jan Murphy, Patriot-News – Sepetember 26, 2013
As I See It: Legislation would aid abuse survivors
By Delilah Rumburg, Patriot-News Op-Ed – April 08, 2013
For survivors, fewer options
By Cathleen Palm, Philly.com – April 08, 2013
How to Contact Your Legislator
|Last Name||First Name||Phone Ext.|
- “Child Sexual Abuse: What Parents Should Know,” American Psychological Association. (http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/child-sexual-abuse.aspx) (February 19, 2014)
- Douglas, E., and D. Finkelhor, Childhood Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet, Crimes Against Children Research Center, May 2005. (http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/factsheet/pdf/childhoodSexual AbuseFactSheet.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
- Finkelhor, D., “The Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse,” Future of Children, 2009, 19(2):169–94.
- Kilpatrick, D., R. Acierno, B. Saunders, H. Resnick, C. Best, and P. Schnurr, “National Survey of Adolescents,” Charleston, SC: Medical University of South Carolina, National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1998.
- “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics,” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000.
- “National Crime Victimization Survey,” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1996.
- Silverman, J. G., A. Raj, L. A. Mucci, and J. E. Hathaway, “Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001, Vol. 286 (No. 5).
- Wolak, J., K. Mitchell, and D. Finkelhor, “Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later,” National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 2006. (http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC167.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
- “Child Maltreatment 2012,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau.
- Wolak, Janis, David Finkelhor, Kimberly J. Mitchell, and Michele L. Ybarra, “Online ‘Predators’ and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment.” American Psychologist, 2008, 63:111–128. (http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/Am%20Psy%202-08.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
- Lenhart, Amanda, “Teens and Sexting.” Pew Internet & American Life Project, December 15, 2009. (http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Teens-and-Sexting.aspx) (December 21, 2011)
- Kilpatrick, Dean G., Ph.D., Heidi S. Resnick, Ph.D., Kenneth J. Ruggiero, Ph.D., Lauren M. Conoscenti, M.A., and Jenna McCauley, M.S., “Drug-Facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study,” July 2007. (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/219181.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
- Truman, Jennifer l., Ph.D., BJS Statistician, “National Crime Victimization Survey 2010,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, September 2011. (http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
- Canadian Centre for Child Protection Inc., “Child Sexual Abuse–It Is Your Business.” p.10. (https://www.cybertip.ca/pdfs/C3P_ChildSexualAbuse_ItIsYourBusiness_en.pdf) (November 1, 2012)
- The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “Sex and Tech–Results From a Survey of Teens and Young Adults.” (http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/CV71.pdf) November 11, 2010
- Truman, J., L. Langton, and M. Planty, “Criminal Victimization 2012,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, October 2013. (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv12.pdf) (February 19, 2014)
- “NISVS: An Overview of 2010 Summary Report Findings,” Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. (http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/cdc_nisvs_overview_insert_final-a.pdf) (February 19, 2014)
- Finkelhor, D., and L. Jones, “Have Sexual Abuse and Physical Abuse Declined Since the 1990s?” Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire. (November 1, 2012)
- Tompson, T., J. Benz, and J. Agiesta, “The Digital Abuse Study: Experiences of Teens and Young Adults,” AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, October 2013. (http://www.apnorc.org/PDFs/Digital%20Abuse/AP-NORC%20Center%20and%20MTV_Digital%20Abuse%20Study_FINAL.pdf) (February 19, 2014)
- Allnock, D., “Children and Young People Disclosing Sexual Abuse: An Introduction to the Research,” Child Protection Research Department NSPCC Fresh Start. April 2010. (http://www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/research/briefings/children_disclosing_sexual_abuse_pdf_wdf75964.pdf) (June 16, 2014)
- Banks, D., and T. Kyckelhahn, “Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008–2010,” Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents Series, Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2011. (http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=2372) (June 16, 2014)
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