Female Children Less Likely To Show Abuse Evidence
Girls who are repeatedly raped through genital penetration seldom have obvious physical evidence to confirm it, says a report in the journal Pediatrics.
Dr. Jim Anderst at the Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri, and colleagues worked with 506 girls between 5 and 17 who admitted to experiencing penile-genital abuse. In every case, the abuse happened 72 hours before the girls reported it.
Anderst and his colleagues labeled the abuse as “penetrating,” if the child was certain that “the perpetrator’s penis went ‘inside’ her genitals.”
They were looking for “definitive evidence”: a healed hymen tear, a hymen that was missing a segment, or evidence of genital trauma like bleeding, cuts or bruises.
The researchers did not have permission to pull the patients’ cases. Therefore, they only used the children’s reports and what was seen during the examinations.
Using the victim’s statement is the usual way to review sexual abuse, the researchers write, as it is unusual for children to create these kinds of stories.
In a previous study of child sexual abuse, 60% actually minimized the amount or harshness of the acts, and none exaggerated.
Only 10% of the girls had “definitive” proof, which were mended hymen tears.
Children 10 and younger were twice as prone to report 10 attacks, but none had physical evidence.
“Similar results were seen for victims of repetitive assaults involving perceived penetrations over long periods of time, as well as victims with a history of consensual sex,” said the authors.
There are several reasons that evidence may not have been visible on the victims. They include:
–Injuries that have already healed.
–Penetration could have happened without injury.
–Children might have misunderstood nonpenetrative contact as penetration.
While the victim’s stories were used in the study, the researchers do cite one case as an example: a 12-year-old girl was victimized 209 times by her adult stepbrother in one year.
She wrote every attack down in her diary, using specific details, like her pain, bleeding and when her abuser’s condom fell off in her vagina. However, there was not any “definitive evidence” of vaginal penetration.
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