Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse refers to unwanted sexual activity in which perpetrators use force or threats to take advantage of victims who are not able to give consent. Samples of sexual abuse and assault include unwanted touching or kissing, unwanted violent sexual contact, rape or attempted rape, and sexual contact with a person who is drunk, drugged or unconscious. Threatening someone to perform unwanted sexual acts and pressuring the person to have sex are also forms of sexual abuse.

Victims can be men or women of any age. The most common perpetrators are known or familiar to the victims. Sexual abuse committed by a partner can include insulting name calling, refusal to use condom or other forms of birth control, intentionally causing unwanted physical pain during sexual activity, and passing on sexual diseases or infections on purpose. This may also include using objects such as sex toys without consent and for the purpose of causing pain or humiliation.

The most common immediate reactions include shock, panic, or disbelief. Sexual abuse can also cause long-term effects such as fear, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. There are efforts to treat sex offenders although the results remain unsatisfactory. Psychological interventions for victims, however, have proven to be effective in many cases.

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