Nance is relatively public about her history of victimization. Long before she was violently assaulted in 2014, she had recovered from a series of crimes. The victimization began in her childhood, but she didn’t always recognize what happened to her was criminal. She regularly speaks now about her experience because she knows she is not alone. Search Twitter for the #whyididntreport thread. Read the subsequent articles in the New York Times and on CNN.com. It’s complicated, emotionally and procedurally.
In her Essentials of Victimology textbook, Author and Sociologist Jan Yager, Ph.D. reports that there were an estimated 678,000 victims of child abuse and neglect in the United States in 2018. Nance suspects the numbers are higher, considering that the home situations of nearly 3.5 million children were investigated in 2019. The statistics don’t always tell the full story, which is in part what inspired Dr. Yager to write her Victims book in 1978.
Similar to the underreporting of child abuse–or perhaps the lack of “smoking gun” evidence proving it–sexual assault is known to be underreported by 80%. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicated 139,380 rapes were reported in 2018, but the National Sexual Violence Resource Center‘s survey from the same year identified as many as 734,630 rapes.
Most victims are trying to heal themselves and address these crimes on their own. Which is why it’s even more problematic that families can revictimize them with their clumsy and even intentionally harmful responses. That’s why Nance collaborated with Psych Central‘s Hope Gillette on a recent article. “We’re still learning how to navigate trauma and abuse in families and intimate relationships,” Nance says, “but we’ve come a long way from the days when these were considered private matters free from outside intervention.”
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