What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse, also commonly referred to as sexual violence, includes any type of forced, coerced or non-consenting sexual contact including unwanted sexual touching, oral sex, rape, harassment and more. Some forms of sexual violence are illegal, such as rape and incest. Others are not illegal, such as sexist and sexually violent jokes, street harassment and catcalling, but this does not make them any less threating or harmful to the person victimized (PCAR).
There are many forms of sexual abuse including:
- Sexual assault
- Child sexual assault
- Grabbing or groping
- Commerical sexual exploitation (i.e. prostitution)
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual or anti-LGBTQ bullying
- Forced participation in the production of pornography
Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Sexual abuse is also less likely to be reported due to fear of not being believed or shamed or blamed for what has happened to them. It is important to support survivors, stand by them and let them know that they are not alone.
What is Consent?
Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent should be clearly and freely communicated. A verbal and affirmative expression of consent can help both you and your partner to understand and respect each other’s boundaries.
Consent cannot be given by individuals who are underage, intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or asleep or unconscious. If someone agrees to an activity under pressure of intimidation or threat, that isn’t considered consent because it was not given freely. Unequal power dynamics, such as engaging in sexual activity with an employee or student, also mean that consent cannot be freely given. (RAINN).
Who is Affected?
Sexual abuse affects people of all backgrounds, all ages, all sexual orientations, all gender-identities, all religions and all socio-economic statuses.
- 1 in 4 men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 women experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime.
Although sexual abuse can happen at any age, children and teens are at the highest risk for being victims of sexual abuse/assault.
Other groups that are at a higher risk for sexual abuse/assault are college students, black women and girls and those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Learn more about Sexual Abuse at PCAR.org
Who are the Perpetrators?
Much like victims and survivors, anyone can be a perpetrator of sexual abuse. Perpetrators are most often nice, upstanding, friendly individuals when they aren’t committing abuse, making it more difficult to see the warning signs and identify the perpetrator/abuser.
Although there are perpetrators that prefer to victimize strangers, most sexual offenses are committed by someone the victim knows:
- Intimate partner
- Family member (aunts, uncles, siblings, etc.)
- Family Friend
Sexual Abuse is Preventable!
If we continue to raise awareness, promote equity and speak out against the social “norms” that condone sexual violence and abusive behavior, we can create a safe and supportive community. We all have the ability to positively influence others and erase the silence and shame that keep sexual abuse and violence hidden.
If you have been sexually abused or assaulted, please call our 24/7 Hotline at 570-421-4200. If you have are injured call 911 immediately to report the incident or seek medical assistance at with St.Lukes-Monroe or LVHN-Pocono Emergency Department. Reporting to the hospital will alert our SART Program (link to SART page – see copy above).