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Childhood trauma

Sexual abuse experienced by one-in-seven young Germans, researchers find

Sexual abuse in childhood or puberty has been experienced by every seventh person in Germany. The findings came from a survey by Ulm city's University Clinic, featured in "Der Spiegel" magazine.

Researchers at the southern German clinic found that 13.9 percent of residents in Germany, now older than 14, had confided that they had been sexually abused in their younger years.

Among them, behavior regarded as "severe abuse" had been experienced by 7.6 percent of those sampled.

A similar study using the same methodology in 2010 had identified abuse at a level of 12.6 percent and severe abuse at 6.2 percent.

Prevalence undeterred

"There can be no question of sounding the all-clear," concluded Professor Jörg Fegert, who was responsible for the clinic's study.

One must instead speak of an increasing trend, Fegert told "Der Spiegel," referring to world-wide scandals of recent years that might have acted as deterrents.

Development violated

The Ulm study documents how sexual violence in childhood years can impact on the victims far later in life.

The adults experience a double risk of severe obesity, a triple risk of diabetes and a double risk of high blood pressure, the study found.

They were six times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and four times more likely to suffer a heart attack.

Victims, when older, were significantly more likely to injure themselves and undertake suicide attempts.

Victimized at five

"Der Spiegel" began its article by citing the tearful testimony of a man now aged 51 who over seven years was victimized as a child by a neighbor.

At the age of 30, he went to police, but his evidence was initially inexact and the abusive acts of the male perpetrator exceeded the statute-of-limitation deadline for prosecution.

Only four years ago, did his memory begin to deliver "very detailed" re-call of how he was abused at the age of five. Eventually, a brother helped testify and confirmed the abuse.

A psychotherapist had diagnosed a post-traumatic stress disorder with depressive episodes and borderline syndrome symptoms, "Der Spiegel" reported.

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