Imagine if you will an eight year old female client sitting quietly before you. Her body seems tense and rigid, and her eyes rarely look up at you. As her therapist you slowly discover that she has been the victim of sexual abuse. Her father has been forcing her to perform fallatio for the past two years. Disclosure of the incest occurred when the victim discovered that her father had begun to touch her younger sister as well. In an attempt to protect her sister she revealed "the secret" to her mother. Where upon her mom became angry and accused her of lying; asking her where she came up with such things and why she would disrespect her father in such a way. The client then told a teacher, where upon Child Protective Services stepped in and now the two girls were in a foster home.
The following hour you attend a family therapy meeting. The parents and their three children are waiting quietly as you enter the room. You observe that the parents are a little anxious, worried and a bit nervous. The youngest sibling is a three year old female, the second child is a seven year old male and the oldest is a 15 year old female. You discover that the parent's are concerned about their son. His boy scout leader had recently been arrested for molesting two members of the squad. When the concerned parents talked about the incident with their son, he revealed that he too had been a victim as well. The young boy sat upright paying attention to what was said. He spoke clearly, but his tone and hesitation indicated confusion. The incident had occurred only once and took place while on a camping trip four months ago. The family in general was very supportive and wanted to ensure that their son "knew" he did nothing to evoke such behavior.
Unfortunately, cases like these are not uncommon in our society. Child abuse in general as well as sexual abuse is growing every year, MacLennon (1993) reports 140,000 cases reported in the year of 1986 and according to Alexander (1989) about 25% of all women report a history of sexual child abuse.