Complaints of sexual abuse rising, 58% of incidents in the home

Children often find it difficult to report abuse against a family member. Photo: Depositphotos

More than half of incidents of physical sexual abuse take place in the home, a report by the national watchdog has found.

The number of incidents reported to the police has been rising for the last two years, after falling gradually until 2020.

In the last five years police have received around 16,000 complaints about abuse against minors, 58% of which took place in the home, Conny Rijken, the national rapporteur for human trafficking and sexual abuse said.

“Recently there has been a lot of attention for sexual violence that takes place in the workplace, at sports clubs and in public spaces, but the large group of victims in domestic settings should not be forgotten. Especially as the harm can be greatest here.”

Nearly four in 10 (38%) of alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse were themselves under 21, the report found, with rape the most common type of offence, followed by unsolicited sexting and unwanted sexual contact.

“Good information for children about sexuality is part of a healthy sexual development, and important in preventing sexual violence against children, both in the offline and online world,” the rapporteur said. “Schools have an important role in this.”

Voice of Holland

The report also found that in 20% of cases victims took more than a year to report their case. “It’s possible that high-profile cases such as The Voice of Holland have been a factor in victims recognising themselves as victims and finding the courage to go to the police.”

The Voice of Holland was cancelled by RTL in January 2022 after allegations of sexual abuse were made against a number of presenters and senior team members, including band leader Jeroen Rietbergen and show coach Ali B.

Prosecutors have charged Rietbergen and Ali B. with sexual abuse, but no charges were brought against singer Marco Borsato, who was also the subject of numerous complaints, because there was not enough evidence.

Rijken said the nature of sexual abuse in the home and family made it more difficult for victims to come forward. “There is a connection, there is loyalty to family members, a father, an uncle or a grandfather,” she told NOS Radio 1 Journaal.

“That makes it difficult for victims to come forward. And it’s also difficult to come forward because the abuse continues for a longer period.”

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