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Here are some Facts about
Sexual Abuse and Suicide.

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Many people believe that Sexual Abuse is just about physical sex.  It is not!   Sexual Abuse can be physical, verbal , emotional, and can include:

* Exposing children to adult sexual activity or pornographic movies and/ or photographs.
* Having children pose, undress or perform in a sexual fashion on film or in person.
* "Peeping" into bathrooms or bedrooms to spy on children.
* Rape or attempted rape.

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Facts of Sexual Abuse

* 1 in every 3 girls and 1 in every 4 guys are abused by the age of 18.
* Almost always the offender is a Male. He will molest an average of 17 youngsters,
most of whom do not report the offense. The victim is likely to by a boy or girl that the offender knows.
* Approximately 35% of women and 20% of men in the US were victims of sexual abuse as children.
* 85% of child abuse takes place with a family member or friend in the home.
* Child Sexual abuse is reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the children are afraid to tell, and the legal procedure for validating the episode is difficult.
* Almost all of the children will be abused by someone they know and trust: a family member, family friend, or a caretaker.
* The abuse often begins gradually (fondling) and increases over time.
* Incestous behavior is not confined to sexual intercourse. Incest can incluude nudity, disrobing, genitial exposure, kissing, fondling, digital penetration, and sodomy.
* Incest survives on secrecy. Most victims feel isolated from the rest of the world. The effects of incest are devastating. Short-term ones include behavioral problems, addictions, sexual promiscuity, and a sudden drop in grades. Long-term effects include anxiety, chronic depression, sleep disorders addictions, low self-esteem, suicidal urges, feelings of isolation, shame and guilt, and difficulty with sex, and relationships.

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Children who have been Sexually Abused feel many
different and often overwhelming emotions including:

- of the abuser
- of causing trouble
- of losing adults important to them
- of being taken away from home
- of being different

- at the abuser
- at other adults around them who didn't protect them
- at themselves (feeling as if they caused the problem)

- because "something is wrong with me"
- because they feel alone in thier experience
- because they have trouble talking about the abuse

- about having something taken from them
- about losing a part of them
- about growing up too fast
- about being betrayed by someone they trusted

- about being involved in the experience
- about their bodys response to the abuse

- for not being able to stop the abuse
- for believing they "consented" to the abuse
- for telling (if they told)
- for keeping the secret (if they didn't tell)

- because they may still love thier abuser
-because their feelings change all the time.

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What to do if you or someone you know is abused

- Keep Calm
- Tell an adult you feel you can trust
- Believe the Child
- Give positive messages
- Explain
- Listen and answer the child
- Respect
- Be responsible
- Arrange a medical exam
- Get help

- Panic or over react
- Pressure the child
- Confront the offender
- Blame the child

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Behavioral Patterns

* Unusual interest in or avoidness of all things of a sexual nature
* Fear or dislike of cetain places or people
* Sleep disturbances
* School problems
* Withdrawing from the family, friends, and unusual activities
* Poor hygiene
* Return to younger, more babyish behavior
* Depression
* Anxiety
* Discipline problems
* Running away
* Eating disorders
* Passive or overly pleasing behaviors
* Delinquent acts
* Low self-esteem
* Self-destructive behavior
* Hostility or Aggression
* Drug or alcohol problems
* Sexual activity or pregnancy at an early age
* Suicide attempts

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Questions an abused person may be facing

* How do you feel about your own sexuality? About Sex?
* How do you feel about the abuser? Do you feel confusion for loving the abuser?
* Do you feel the abuse was your fault?
* Do you hate the person who abused you?
* Do you hate someone you feel should have protected you?
* Do you believe that there will be a time in your life when you'll be able to trust again?.....when?
* (Guys) Do you feel that you may be homosexual because girls don't "turn you on"?

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Suicide Facts

- Suicides among young people nationwide have increased dramtically in recent years.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds.
- Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death for 5 to 14 year olds!
- Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable.
(Suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem)

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Signs of possible suicidal tendencies.

- Change in eating and sleeping patterns.
- Withdrawal from friends, family and regular activities.
- Depression: Broadly speaking; not necessarily a diagnoisable mental illness such as clinical depression but depression indicated by signs such as: sadness, hopelessness, irritabiblity and loss of interest in usual activities..
- Loss of energy
- Changes in appetitie, weight, behavior, activity levels or sleep patterns.
- Talking, writing or hinting about suicide
- Recurring suicidal thoughts or fantasies.
- Previous Attempts
- Violent actions, rebellious behavior or running away.
- Drug and alcohol abuse or use.
- Unusual neglect of personal appearance.
- Marked personality changes.
- Persisitent boredom, difficulty concetrating, or decline in the quality of schoolwork.
- Frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomach-aches, headaches, fatigue, ect.
- Loss of interest in pleasurable events.
- Not tolerating praise or rewards.
- Complaints of being "rotten inside".
- Giving verbal hints with statments such as "I won't be a problem for you much longer", "noting matters", "It's no use", "I won't see you again".
- Put his or her affairs in order-- for example, giving away favorite possessions, cleaning his/her room, throwing away important belongings...ect.
- Becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression.
- "Clearing the air" over personal incidents in the past.
- Sudden intense interest in personal wills or life insurance.

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Why do people attempt suicide?

People usually attempt suicide to block unbearable emotional pain, which is caused by a wide variety of problems. It is often a cry for help. A person attempting suicide is often so depressed that they are unable to see that they have other options: We can help prevent a tragedy by endeavoring to understand how they feel and helping them to look for better choices that they could make. Suicidal people often feel terribly isolated, because they distrust, they may not think of anyone they can turn to......which furthers the isolation.
* so...what sort of things can contribute to someone feeling suicidal?
*Significant changes in:
- Relationships
- Well being of self of family members
- Body image
- Job, school, university, home, locality
- Financial situation
- World environment *Significent losses in:
- Death of a loved one
- Loss of a valued realtionship
- Loss of self-esteem or personal expectations
- Loss of employment *Perceived abuse:
- Physical
- Emotional/Psycholical
- Sexual
- Social
- Neglect

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What can be done?

Suicidal people, like all of us, need love, understanding and care. People usually don't ask "are you feeling so bad that you're thinking about suicide?" directly. Those contemplating suicide are usually holding in these feelings which will make the thoughts stronger and increases the feelings of isolation and increases the likelihood that they may actually make the attempt. Asking if they are feeling suicidal opens the door for them and can have the effect that they are given the permission to feel the way they do....which reduces their isolation and they may feel that someone is actually listening and cares and can understand how they are feeling.If someone you know tells you that they feel suicidal, above all...LISTEN to themThen listen some more. Tell them "I don't want you to die". Try to make yourself available to hear about how they feel, and try to form a "no-suicide contract" with them. Ask them to promise you that they won't attempt suicide or anything that would be self destructive until they can contact you or someone else who can give them some support. Some who may be able to help could be: a doctor, community health center, counsellor, psychologist, social worker, youth pastor, youth worker, minister....ect. If they acutely suicidal and won't talk, you may need to get them to a hospital emergency department or tell an adult you can trust.

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The effects of Suicide on those left behind

Suicide is often extremely traumatic for the friends and family members that remain (the survivors), even though people who attempt suicide often think that no-one cares about them. In addition to the feelings of grief normally associated wtih a person's death, there may be guilt, anger, resentment, remorse, confusion and great distress over unresolved issues. The stigma surrounding suicide can make it extremely difficult for survivors to deal with their grief and can cause them also to feel terribly isolated. Survivors often find that people relate differently to them after the suicide, and may be very reluctant to talk about what has happened for fear of condemnation. They often feel like a failure because someone they cared so much about has chosen to commit suicide, and may also be fearful of forming any new relationships or renewing a relationship with someone who has tried to commit suicide.

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Could this be you?

It's quite likely that some people that read this will one day attempt suicide, so here's a quick suicide prevention exercise: Think of a list of 5 people who you might talk to if you had no-one else to turn to, starting with the most preferred person at the top of the list. Form a "no-suicide contract" with yourself.... promising that if you ever feel suicidal you will go to each of the people on the list in turn. And that you will tell them how you feel; and that if someone didn't listen, you'll just keep going until you find someone that will. Many who attempt suicide are so distressed that they can't see anywhere to turn in the midst of a crisis, so having thought beforehand and having a list of people to turn to with a plan of action could be of great help!

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