Sexual abuse refers to any behaviour of a sexual nature that takes place without the consent or understanding of the victim. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender.
Sexual abuse can be perpetrated by a stranger or someone known to the victim. It can also take place in the context of any relationship or setting, including:
- Among family members
- In a dating/intimate relationship
- In a caregiving relationship
- Within a household/domestic setting
- Between spouses
What is Considered Sexually Violent Behaviour?
- Forcing or threatening someone to engage in sexual activity (e.g. molest, rape)
- Grooming a person to engage in sexual activity by gaining and maintaining sexual access with them, and preventing them from telling anyone about it
- Engaging in sexual activity with a person who is not capable or who lacks the mental capacity or understanding to give consent (e.g. children, persons with intellectual disability)
- Engaging in non-contact sexual activity without their consent (e.g. forcing underaged persons to witness sexual activity/pornography, indecent exposure, voyeurism, threatening to or distribution of sexual images or videos of another person, obscene
What is Online Sexual Violence?
- Pressuring someone to send explicit images of themselves
- Posting sexual comments or requests without consent
- Distributing sexual images or videos of another person without consent
What are Some Signs to Look Out for in Victims?
- Unexplained bruises or injuries around the private parts, genital diseases or Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Easily scared or nervous about physical touch
- The display of unusual, sudden intense fear and avoidance of a particular person, place, or object (e.g. fear of bathing because the sexual violence occurred in the bathroom)
- The use of non-age-appropriate knowledge or language, interest in sex or displaying sexualised behaviours (e.g. a young child might ask his/her classmate to get into positions that look sexual in nature)
- Significant changes in mood (e.g. more depressed or anxious)*
- Self-harm or suicidal behaviours (e.g. threatening or attempting suicide, preoccupation with death)*
- Running away, isolating self, or withdrawing from friends*
*These may also be signs of other problems that the person may be experiencing and not necessarily due to sexual violence.