What is Sexual Abuse?

You have a right to respect, safety and a life free of harm from others.

Unfortunately, this does not always happen and sometimes lives are affected by the experience of abuse, including sexual abuse.

So, what is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse happens when someone uses his or her own or your body in a sexual way while you don’t agree to it or when you are too young to make a choice.

Sexual abuse can happen to both girls and boys and can include things like:

  • unwanted kissing or touching
  • being forced or pressured to do sexual things
  • being pressured or forced to someone else’s body do sexual things
  • being photographed without some of your clothes on
  • being shown video or images of a sexual nature in movies or magazines, or on a computer or smartphone
  • being pressured, over the net, into sexual activities
  • being sent obscene text messages, voice or emails

The main thing to know about all of these is that NONE ARE OK.

Is it normal to feel confused about this?

You are likely to be experiencing a lot of different feelings, if you have been abused, such as confusion, fear, shame, anger or shock. People, who have been abused, sometimes can even blame themselves for what happened. Because of these feelings, it can be very difficult to talk about what’s been going on.

As abusers are often people you know, you may feel confused. In fact, you like them and used to trust them, because you have known them for a long time. It is especially difficult to tell someone about the abuse, because people may not believe that this person could do something like that.

How do you know if it’s sexual abuse?

You may not be sure whether it was sexual abuse, if something like this happened to you. It’s a good idea to talk to an adult you trust, if any of the below things happened to you as well.

Abusers try to make sure you don’t tell anyone about what they have done, in a number of ways, including:

  • abuse in secret
  • tell you not to tell anyone
  • tell you that it’s your ‘special secret’
  • threat someone you care about or you if you told anyone
  • tell that you wanted it to happen and that it was your fault
  • tell you, even if you told them about the abuse, no one will believe you
  • tell you it was a ‘game’
  • give you presents after or before the abuse
  • tell you it was a special relationship

What to do?

If you concern about any sexual experience or you have any doubts or you have experienced sexual abuse, then it’s time to talk to a trusted adult and/or counselor.

Your body is yours:

  • you have a right to be in control of who touches it and who sees it
  • you have a right at all times – to feel safe
  • you deserve respect

If you are being, or have been sexually abused:

  • it is not your fault – don’t blame yourself
  • tell an adult you can trust, and keep doing so until someone listens and offers to help you

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