How common is it?
When we count how many we think are sexually abused in Sweden, we use the statistics from BRÅ (The Crime Prevention Council). Their figures confirm what we already know; it’s hard to talk about sexual abuse, both for adults and for children. BRÅ’s statistics show that two out of ten sexual offenses are reported. Studies conducted on children suggest that it’s even harder for children to tell and that only one of ten child victims tell someone. This makes it impossible to know exactly how common it is.
BRÅ’s statistics show that about 18,000 sexual offenses are reported to the police each year. 3,000 of those reports include child rapes between the ages of 0-17. Just as many – 3,000 rapes – are reported by adults every year. The figures available indicate that children are three times more likely to be raped than an adult.
If you count with the unreported cases, meaning that 2 of 10 sex crimes are reported, we land on figures of 90 000 sexual offenses, 30 000 rapes every year. That gives us almost 250 sexual abuse or exploits of children or adults, every day in Sweden.
If you look at the global statistics, Sweden ranks as the country with the second-highest number of rapes committed in the world. We believe those figures are very misleading. Because, after all, it is relatively easy to report sexual crimes in Sweden, compared to many other countries.
If we look at information coming from the different organizations that work with human rights, we see that sexual violence is prevalent all over the world. The people who are most vulnerable are women and children in conflict areas.
Anyone can be abused
People from all backgrounds are exposed to sexual abuse. The most vulnerable are women and children, but men are also subjected to sexual abuse. To live in a conflict zone, or to have a functional disability increases the risk of being subjected to sexual abuse.
Statistics from the Södersjukhuset’s emergency room for raped women in Stockholm, and from studies, such as ACE – Adverse Childhood Experiences show that the risk of being raped as an adult increases if you have been sexually abused as a child.
The vast majority of offenders are male, although women can also abuse. Brå’s statistics show that amongst the reported sexual crimes, 98 of 100 offenders are male. It also shows that children and teenagers abuse other peers or younger children. Experience indicates that many of those who subjected others to sexual abuse themselves have been subjected to various kinds of violations in the past.
Often times the offender usually knows the person they’re abusing. And that applies to both adults and children.
From the outset, you can’t see on a person that he or she abuses someone. Offenders can be found across all social classes and cultures, and they have, just like any other person, many different sides. Many are seemingly very kind. If you don’t have sufficient knowledge about sexual abuse, it’s easy to think that a person who is nice and charming wouldn’t expose someone to sexual abuse. But sadly, this is a mistake. It would be much easier if these perpetrators were generally unpleasant and aggressive. Sometimes it can be so. No matter their personality, it’s always wrong to subject someone to sexual abuse, however nice the person may be.
The abuse that is targeted to divide and disrupt families and communities, to achieve economic or strategic objectives is called conflict-related sexual violence. It is common in war, or when different groups want to gain control of valuable natural resources. It is usually women and children who are exposed, but men are also affected. Conflict-related sexual violence does not replace the sexual abuse that occurs in peacetime. They are rather placed on top of that and become an additional stress for first and foremost women and children.
Are you an abuser? You can get help through Preventell.