Assault is an emotional and physical trauma that no one should endure at any age. In America sexually abused rates have decreased since 1950’s but recently have been on the raise. Issues such as sexual assault are gaining more support and typically women and men are violated at a young age in our society. Sexual abuse is when a minor is involved in an unwanted act of sexual conduct. Sexual assault is when an adult is involved in an unwanted act of sexual conduct. Sexual harassment is when a minor or adult is involved with unwanted name calling and touching, but no sexual act is taken place.

In “The Book of Unknown American’s” by Cristina Henriquez, she talks about sexual abuse. In the novel Alma says, “I saw her. Her back was against the cinder-block wall, and her hands were up over her head.” (121). As a mother that must have been hard to see, knowing your trying to do everything you can to keep your baby save and you have let them down because you were not able to keep them out of harms way. According to Rainn Statistics, Perpetrators of Sexual Violence, the rates are “ 93% of juvenile victims knew the perpetrator: 59% of the perpetrator’s were acquaintances…” This shows that Maribel falls under this category because   she is a juvenile and she know who Garrett was. The highest victims at risk of sexual assault and rape are from the ages of 12-34 (Rainn, Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics). In “The Book of Unknown American’s” Maribel is a fifteen year old girl that is categorized into this group.   “66% of victims are age 12-17 and 82% of all victims are under 18 are female. ” (Rainn, Children and Teens). Maribel can also be grouped into this category as she fits into the database. According to Erdal Ozer, his research has similar results, which further validates my evidence.

Maribel is also an easy target for a sexual assault encounter. Most men prey on young girls, that are small in frame and look weak and assumed they can’t fight back. But Maribel also has a  Traumatic Brain Injury. Which changed the way her brain and body function together. “In mild cases, temporary confusion and headache may occur” (Goldman). Then Alma continues saying, “…was holding her wrists in place, staring at her. Her shirt was bunched under her armpits, exposing here white cotton bra, and her head was turned to the side, her eyes squeezed shut.” (Henriquez 121). According to Goldman, “A number of children and youth with an intellectual disability are victims of sexual abuse.” Maribel fits into this category because she is a juvenile with mental challenges. After Alma rushes to Maribel’s aid, she said, “Go, Maribel… Go to the apartment! But she didn’t move. She was mute and immobile, a tree rooted in place.” (Henrquiez 122). We all know that in a time of stress our hormones react and the average human reflex response is with the fight or flight reaction. According to Selterz, when someone is overwhelmed with intense emotion, they can respond with a fight-flight, or freeze reaction. Maribel has this third reaction that can be due to her traumatic brain injury, which makes her immobilized in critical situations. Ozer’s evidence has the same results, that verify my research.

There was also another character that faced the same issue. Quisqueya Solis says, “I was twelve… as my body began to change and I grew into womanhood, he took another look. He was always walking in on me in the shower, claiming he didn’t know I was there, or I would catch him watching me while I tanned by the pool. I tried to ignore him when I could. I kept the door to my room locked.”(Henriquez 116). Here Quisqueya is aware of the awkward presence that her step brother is portraying and tries to avoid the confrontation. Quisqueya also says, “I was sixteen… when he came up from behind and kissed me. I remember very clearly he said, ‘It’s okay. We’re not really brother and sister, so it’s fine.’ But it wasn’t fine with me. I tried to push him off, but he was stronger than me… But this was not what I wanted. He came at again, He knocked me to the floor and climbed on top of me. He did unspeakable things, all against my will…” (Henriquez 116-117).  According to Rainn, Children and Teens,  “34% of sexual assaults are family members and out of the yearly 63,000 sexual abuse cases… 5% were “other” (from siblings to strangers).” Rainn, Scope of the Problem gives out a chart of breakdown location where sexual assaults may take place: “55% are at or near the victim’s home, 15% in an open public area, 12% at or near a relative’s home, 10% in an enclosed but public area, and 8% on school property.” Quisqueya is categorized into the 55 percentile, while Maribel is grouped under the 15 percentile. According to Ozer’s statements they are similar to Rainn’s, that can further support my evidence.

Then Quisqueya says, “I told my mother what he had done to me, but she didn’t believe it. She accused me of trying to ruin things for her… She warned me not to be ungrateful. Of course, I was only more upset after that. And I felt I couldn’t stay there, in such proximity to Scott. I knew it was only a matter of time before he came for me again.” (Henriquez 117). Can anyone image how Quisqueya must have truly felt when she realized her mother didn’t care about what happened to her and to realize that her mother was just blinded by “love”.

In conclusion, Cristina Henrquiez brings up a conflict that remains unsolved, sexual abuse is just one of many that needs to be stopped. As my evidence supports that women and men of all ages are abused, typically from the age of 12-34 and 90% are women. The people who are targeted can not cope with the stress and trauma they endure, the pain and scars that are left behind from the sexual violence. Many people today have begun to speak out on their assault, which is raising more awareness towards this epidemic.

Work Cited

Goldman, Renitta L. Children and Youth with Intellectual Disabilities: Targets for Sexual Abuse. 2 Aug. 2006,

Henriquez, Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans. Vintage Books, 2014.

Nordqvist, Christian, and Seunggu Han. Causes and Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). 22 Jan. 2018,

Ozer, Erdal, et al. “Sexual Abuse and Assault Victims; Comparing the Characteristics of Adolescent and Adult Victims.” Biomed Research- India 2016, vol. 27, no. 4, 5 Apr. 2016, pp. 1156–1160.

Seltzer, Leon F. Trauma and the Freeze Response: Good, Bad, or Both? 8 July 2015, response-good-bad-or-both.

“Statistics.” Statistics | RAINN,