While any kind of abuse is damaging and wicked, sexual abuse is exceptionally destructive. Its twisted mixture of physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse cause incredible damage. Many people out there would rather pretend it doesn’t exist, but all that does is leave millions of people stuck in their pain, shame, and despair. I don’t want that to be your case if you’ve experienced sexual abuse; I want you to be a whole person, healed and recovered from whatever negative things have happened in your life. So let’s tackle this issue together.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is any inappropriate and forceful physical, visual, or verbal interaction for sexual stimulation or satisfaction. This abuse is intentional and is often committed by someone the victim knows or has regular contact with, such as a family member, friend, teacher, or even a spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend.
A key characteristic of sexual abuse is the dominant position of a person that allows them to force or coerce a victim into sexual activity, even if no bodily contact is ever made.
Sexual abuse (whether a single incident or many acts over a long period of time) can include any of the following activities done with, or in front of someone, against their will.
- Rape: sexual assault perpetrated against a person without that person’s consent
- Molestation: the crime of sexual acts with children up to the age of 18
- Incest: sexual relations between people closely related to each other
- Exhibitionism: exposing private parts to someone against their will
- Masturbation: being forced to watch or participate
- Being forced into prostitution
- Pornography: being forced to see it or forced into creating pornography
- Obscene phone calls
- Any sexual conduct harmful to mental, emotional, or physical welfare
- Unwanted kissing or touching
- Threats of unwanted sexual activity
- Repeated sexual insults
Abuse Can Happen Anywhere to Anyone
It’s not just girls who are sexually abused; it also happens to guys. Some experts say one out of every three girls and one of out every six guys will in one way or another be sexually abused by the time they are 18. In fact, child sexual abuse is reported approximately 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the victims are usually afraid to tell anyone what has happened to them.
Sexual abuse isn’t just committed by men. Women can also be abusers. And abusers aren’t typically strangers or enemies. Most times, the person who abuses is someone who is very close to the victim — a close family member or relative, or some trusted authority figure. It is also normal for the victim to feel loved by, and even love for, their perpetrator. The victim often has a strong desire to protect their abuser from being found out. Still, regardless of who the abuser is, the effects of sexual abuse can be lifelong.
It’s Not Your Fault
Just about every sexually abused victim blames themselves for what happened. But they are NOT to blame. There is absolutely no one who deserves to be sexually abused. When you were abused, the person abusing you had the power, physically and emotionally. You were up against a violator and could not defend yourself or stop the madness. So remember this simple truth: sexual abuse is not your fault!
You should never be made to keep secrets that make you uncomfortable. If you are being or have been sexually abused, please find someone who you trust to talk to about what’s going on in your life. It may be a pastor, school counselor, therapist, or doctor. But you must reach out and find help as soon as you possibly can.
Nothing stomps out the effects of sexual abuse more than openly talking about it. In talking about it you bring the hurt and confusion into the light where the pain can be washed away. The more you tell your story to trustworthy people, the better. If you want to talk to one of our online mentors, fill out the contact form below. All communication is free and strictly confidential, and none of your contact information will ever be shared with a third party.
If you are in immediate danger, contact the police (911) as soon as possible. If you’re under 18, you can also call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
(Original article found at https://www.thehopeline.com/coping-with-sexual-abuse)
This article was written by: Dawson McAllisterPhoto Credit: Claudia Soraya