Sexual violence is any form of unwanted sexual act or activity. It can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, or by someone known and even trusted, such as a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner. Sexual violence against women and girls can take many forms. The following are ways in which sexual violence against females can be committed
- Rape within relationships
- Rape by strangers
- Unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment, including demanding sex in return for favors
- Sexual abuse of mentally or people living with disabilities
- Sexual abuse of children
- Denial of the right to use contraception or to adopt other measures to protect against sexually transmitted diseases
- Forced abortion
- Forced prostitution
- Trafficking of people for the purpose of sexual exploitation
The responsibility for any act of sexual violence lies absolutely with its perpetrator. There is no excuse for sexual violence – it can never be justified, it can never be explained away and there is no context in which it is valid, understandable or acceptable.
If you have been raped or experienced any other kind of sexual violence, no matter where you were, what you were doing, what you were wearing, what you were saying, if you were drunk or under the influence of drugs, it was not your fault and you did not deserve this.
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. In most cases, the abuser is an adult or older child and the abused child does not understand that what is happening to them is abuse. They may not even understand that it’s wrong. It is important to understand that it is never the fault of the child when they have been abused; the blame and guilt always lie with the abuser.
Sexual abuse in children may involve:
- Indecent touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed, including using an object
- Assault by penetration, including rape or penetration of the mouth with an object or part of the body
- Encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity, including sexual acts with someone else
- Making a child strip or masturbate
- Intentionally engaging in sexual activity in front of a child
- Not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities by others
- Meeting a child following sexual grooming, with the intent of abusing them
- Taking, making, allowing someone to take, distributing, showing or advertising indecent images of children
- Paying for the sexual services of a child
- Encouraging a child into prostitution or pornography
- The society is beginning to acknowledge that Sexual Abuse of children occurs a lot more frequently than most people want to believe. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse it is possible that you may be experiencing any of the following:
- Recurrent depression or anxiety
- Panic attacks, phobias and/or flashbacks.
- Anger shame and/or a feeling of worthless
- Crying constantly or difficulty in showing emotion.
- Self-harming by cutting or burning yourself
- Feeling sick or afraid when you hear the abuser’s voice or a similar voice, seeing an object or place that reminds you of the abuse
- Feeling confused about what happened, remembering only parts of what happened or remembering it in vivid detail,
- Blaming yourself for what happened
These are all common responses to childhood sexual abuse. It is important to understand that whatever your responses, it is OK.
Abuse however thrives on secrecy, and speaking out and acknowledging what happened to you is a very important part of healing. As a first step you could try talking with a sexual violence worker on our helpline. You are in total control of the call, and can decide to disclose and how you want to proceed. All conversations are strictly confidential.