What are SA and CSA?
SA and CSA are terms that refer to two different types of criminal sexual acts.
What is sexual assault (SA)?
SA, or sexual assault, is any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the consent of the victim-survivor. Sexual assault is a broad term that applies to many types of sex crimes committed against adults.
Examples of sexual assault include:
- Nonconsensual sexual contact in which a perpetrator forces a victim-survivor to touch them or be touched by them
- Nonconsensual penetration (rape)
- Attempted nonconsensual penetration (attempted rape)
What is child sexual abuse (CSA)?
CSA, or child sexual abuse, refers to sex crimes committed against a minor. CSA is sometimes referred to as sexual abuse (CSA). CSA may be committed by adults or by older children. CSA can be either physical or nonphysical.
Examples of nonphysical CSA include:
- Exposing oneself or performing sexual acts in view of a minor
- Watching a minor engage in sexual acts
- Sharing explicit images with a minor
- Obscene conversations, either in-person or through calls or messages
Examples of physical CSA include:
- Penetration (rape)
- Attempted penetration (attempted rape)
- Sexual contact of any other kind
What are nonconsensual sexual acts?
A sexual act is nonconsensual when it is performed without the explicit and informed agreement of all involved. By definition, a minor cannot consent to sexual acts. Nonconsensual sexual acts do not always involve someone saying “no”.
Other examples of nonconsensual situations include:
- When a person doesn’t say no because they fear physical or nonphysical retaliation
- When a person is not in a state of mind to give consent, such as being asleep, unconscious, or heavily intoxicated
- When a person consents to one kind of sexual activity but is tricked into participating in another, such as when a consensual sex act is recorded without consent or when someone represents themselves as someone else.
How are we required to respond to SA and CSA?
SA and CSA are deeply harmful to individuals and communities. It is our legal, ethical, and spiritual duty to respond appropriately to SA and CSA.
What does the law say about SA and CSA?
Sex acts with minors are always crimes. Different jurisdictions have different laws regarding SA and CSA, including the age of consent, the legal punishment if convicted, and the statute of limitations— the length of time legal action can be taken after a crime is committed. It’s important to research the laws in your country, state, or province so you know your rights when pursuing or facing legal action. In the U.S., you can learn more about your state’s laws here.
What does the Bible say about SA and CSA?
- On speaking out for justice for the oppressed, Proverbs 31:8-9 says “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”
- On whether or not to report crimes to authorities, Paul wrote: “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same” (Romans 13:2-3)
- On removing those accused of sex crimes from the religious community, Paul wrote: “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out, therefore, the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor. 5:6-8)
- On blaming a victim-survivor for the crimes committed against them, Deuteronomy says it is akin to blaming the murdered instead of the murderer. “But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbor, and slayeth him, even so is this matter” (Deut. 22:26)
SA and CSA in the Truth
The Truth is a fellowship unlike any other, and understanding SA and CSA in relation to the community can help us address it more directly and effectively, creating a safer community for all.
How widespread is SA and CSA in the Truth?1
It is impossible to know the exact number, partly because SA and CSA are rarely reported. (Less than half of SA cases and only about one in 10 CSA cases are ever reported to authorities.) However, victim-survivors have named hundreds of additional alleged perpetrators in the short time since the news about Dean Bruer was made known. Based on statistics about how many victim-survivors a single perpetrator abuses, these reports could indicate 5,000-8,000 people subjected to SA or CSA within the Truth.
Why is SA and CSA underreported in the Truth?
Victim-survivors everywhere face many serious obstacles when reporting abuse, such as retaliation, judgment, and disbelief, which is why a majority of people do not report abuse in the first place. Studies indicate that within tight-knit religious communities like the Truth, reporting SA and CSA is especially difficult because victim-survivors risk losing important personal connections and support systems, and fear bringing shame to a community they value.2
Are some of these reports just made up?
It is unlikely. Studies have shown the rate of false reporting is between 2% and 8%.3 There is little reason for someone to face the obstacles of reporting SA and CSA if they were not abused, hence why the number of unreported SA and CSA far outnumbers false reports of SA and CSA. Comparing the current report rate to statistics from the general public, the estimated number of falsely reported incidents of SA and CSA is between 5-12 while the estimated number of unreported incidents of SA and CSA is 750-2,500.
Who in the Truth commits SA and CSA?
Virtually every instance of SA and CSA in the Truth is committed by someone known to the victim-survivor and their family. In the general population, eight in 10 victim-survivors of SA4 and nine in 10 victim-survivors of CSA are personally acquainted with the victim.5 Within the Truth, where the community is tight-knit and most of the Friends and Workers in the area are known to one another, this number is even higher.
- 20% of perpetrators of CSA hold positions where they can easily earn the trust of communities and therefore have easier access to children.6 This is why, within the Truth, perpetrators are sometimes highly-respected Elders and Workers. 30% of perpetrators of CSA are relatives of the victim-survivor.7
- Perpetrators of CSA are usually willing to take the time to earn the trust of children and their families in a process known as grooming. Perpetrators often violate the boundaries of the child gradually— starting with milder behavior such as lap-siting, tickling, or horseplay— so the child is less aware of or alarmed by the abuse.8 This is one reason why acquaintances of the child, such as trusted Workers, Elders, or family members, are more likely to be perpetrators of CSA.
- A majority of CSA occurs in the residence of either the victim-survivor or the perpetrator.9 It is more likely to occur in situations when a perpetrator is alone with a child(same footnote), such as during home visits from a Worker when a child comes home from school before the parents come home from work.9
How and when does SA occur in the Truth?
- A majority of perpetrators of SA among adults are male (99%) and a majority of victim-survivors are female (90%). However, there are and can be female perpetrators and male victim-survivors.
- Unlike CSA, which frequently involves coercion, SA is more likely to involve force. However, this force is very rarely violent. More common kinds of force include threat of shame or social consequences.
Explore More Resources
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- National Sexual Violence Resource Center: Statistics about sexual violence
- (PDF) Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Jewish Community: A Literature Review
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center: False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault
- RAINN: Perpetrators of Sexual Violence: Statistics
- Bureau of Justice Statistics: Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics
- ScienceDirect: Investigative aspects of crossover offending from a sample of FBI online child sexual exploitation cases
- RAINN: Perpetrators of Sexual Violence: Statistics
- American Psychological Association: Sexual grooming of children: Review of literature and theoretical considerations
- ERIC – Education Resources Information Center: Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics. A NIBRS Statistical Report., 2000-Jul