This article originally appeared in Dialogue, No. 7 in the Summer 5777/2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Child sexual abuse presents a confounding paradox: few want to discuss it, but all want immunity from it. One pernicious form of this abuse, incest, receives even less attention despite the wreckage it leaves in its wake. Over the last few years, however, our community has come to acknowledge that the only way to counter this scourge is to hold our collective breath and create forums in which the topic can be discussed with the care and sensitivity that it deserves.
One of the largest misconceptions is that child sexual abuse is the result of a child’s exposure to outsiders, or what has become commonly known as “stranger danger.” Many parents warn their children about the risks of becoming too friendly with strangers. Yet, the data shows that less than 7% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by strangers. In 93% of cases, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows and trusts, and is often a sibling or close family member committing incest.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.