An estimated 1.8 million Albertans have been sexually abused in their lifetime, according to a new study by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.
A survey showed almost one in two adult Albertans, or 43 per cent, have experienced some type of sexual abuse.
Thirty-four per cent of them were abused prior to turning 18, and 28 per cent were abused as adults.
Only adults were surveyed, but since 34 per cent of them were sexually abused as children or youth, the study extrapolated that an estimated 325,000 children and 1.48 million adults have been abused during their lives.
Patricia Arango, executive director of the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, said it’s sad to say that the rate of abuse is comparable to a 1984 study, which was the most recent data available until now.
“We work hard, but it has not changed,” Arango said.
But while the rate has not changed, the number of people who reported abuse has increased since the size of the population has grown.
Despite the prevalence of abuse, Arango said the rate should drop because of the No Secrets program put in place five years ago for kindergarten to Grade 8 students.
“We have covered 100 per cent of school systems in Alberta. I have hope that we will see the number of kids being sexually assaulted go down, because now we are teaching them how to be safe.
“Now we are teaching them how important it is for them to say, ‘this is my body, I don’t want you to touch me.’”
She said students learn what is safe and unsafe touching, and what is a safe and unsafe secret.
A family intervention program also helps children with sexualized behaviour to prevent them from becoming sexual offenders or victims.
“My focus right now is prevention. We definitely thinks it’s preventable if we work together.”