Parts of this post were used in Aggravated.
During Steve’s second trial, Steve’s attorney, Cleveland Sanford, was questioning expert witness Ada Dixon about her methodology. In particular, he was interested in a list of symptoms Dixon had said were indicative of someone who had undergone sexual abuse. He asked her if those symptoms were outlined in a book that she had mentioned.
Dixon replied, “Yes, sir. I wrote that book.” The book, Overcoming and Dealing With a World of Abuse, claimed that “In 1994, 345,000 sexual abuse incidents in the United States were reported to Child Protective Services. But since 90 to 95 percent of all sexual abuse cases go unreported, the actual numbers are considerably higher.” In 2015, I searched for those statistics at the website link Dixon’s book provided, but the site no longer existed. If Dixon’s figures were accurate, it would mean that victims of sexual abuse in the U.S. range between 3,450,000 and 6,900,000 each year.
I couldn’t find the same statistics Dixon used, so let me cite numbers from the Department of Justice. According to their August 2012 report, Victimizations Not Reported to the Police, 2006-2010, “52% of all violent victimization, or an annual average of 3,382,200 violent victimizations were not reported to the police.” Those figures included all violent crime “rape or sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated assault,” and, the report said that from 1994 to 2010, the percentages of those that were “not reported to the police declined from 50% to 42%.” What does that do to Dixon’s assertion? Not only were the total number of all violent crimes (rape and sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault combined) less than what Dixon claimed for sexual abuse alone, the percentage of people who were reporting those crimes was more than she claimed (and was increasing).
Dixon cited a figure for the year 1994 of only 5% to 10% reporting sexual abuse, but that number is way off base according to the data from the Justice Department. Their number for unreported sexual assault and rape (both crimes combined into one category) was high at 65%, but it was still way below Dixon’s number of 90% to 95% going unreported. Also, Dixon’s figure of 345,000 reported abuse incidents (of children alone) in 1994 doesn’t match the Justice Departments figures at all. The total average annual number of rapes and sexual assaults for the years 2006 to 2010 was 211,200 per year, which is 133,800 less than the number that Dixon claimed for sexual abuse reporting of just children for 1994. I’m not saying that the Justice Department’s figures are a good thing. Higher reporting of crimes would be much better, of course. I’m just saying that Dixon’s numbers seem flawed and way higher than the government’s figures.
I realize that sexual abuse isn’t necessarily the same thing as sexual assault, but sexual abuse can be classified as sexual assault in criminal trials. It’s what Steve was charged with. I don’t know where Dixon got her numbers or the other data she used in her book, but they seem to me to be wildly inaccurate, and skewed much higher than the Justice Department’s figures would suggest is accurate. Was she trying to make things seem more drastic? If anyone can find better statistics for unreported child abuse (especially for 1994) please post them with a link to your sources in the comments.
In the next few posts I’ll look at a few different aspects of Dixon’s book, at its overly-religious and unscientific nature, its attitude toward homosexuality, as well as its gender bias.
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