Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Statistics can Serve to Minimize the Real, Human Pain of Trauma

Releasing the Past

Posted by Paul on Feb 28, 2011

I came across a CNN article recently entitled “PTSD in women may have genetic link”. Early in the article it states, “10% of women and 5% of men develop the condition [of PTSD] sometime in their lives.” It offers no supporting evidence or sources for these numbers. I instantly felt highly suspicious as I see so many traumatized people in my practice as well as so many traumatized, but untreated, people in my life.  Such trauma can come from many different sources, including:

  • Neglect of essential care and love in childhood
  • Sexual, physical or emotional abuse in childhood
  • Surviving a natural disaster (floods, hurricanes, etc.)
  • Accidents (car accident, fire, work accident, etc)
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Death of a loved one
  • Combat trauma
  • Domestic violence by a partner, sibling or other family member
  • Bullying in school or workplace

Statistics can hide the human pain of trauma.

There aren’t really good statistics about what percentage of the population have experienced each of these potentially traumatizing events.  Of these, the best tracked is probably sexual abuse, even though it is generally agreed that 90-95% of all sexual abuse cases go unreported to the police.

  • A report by the FBI in 1999 states that 1 in 4 girls are sexually assaulted before the age of 18.  That’s 25%.
  • The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network reports that “1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime”.  That’s 17% and 3% respectively.
  • The organization Women of Substance reports that “38% of girls and 16% of boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.”
  • The US Center for Disease Control reports that 10.6% of women and 2.1% of men reported experiencing forced sex at some time in their lives.  These numbers skyrocketed in minority groups up to 34%.

It is clear that our society has a problem in tolerating such high levels of sexual and other forms of abuse and trauma.  We bury the painful truth underneath these statistics.  And, such wounds are vastly under-reported.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.