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Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual acts by one person upon another. The offender is referred to as a molester/molestor/abuser/sexual abuser. When the victim is younger than the age of consent, it is referred to as child sexual abuse. Types of sexual abuse include:

  • Non-consensual, forced physical sexual behavior such as rape or sexual assault
  • The use of a position of trust to compel non-consensual sexual behavior without physical force
  • Incest, when it is coerced by force or emotional manipulation; the euphemism "bad touch" is sometimes used to describe such abuse.[1]

Spousal abuse

Main article: Spousal abuse

Spousal abuse is the term applied to the specific form of domestic violence, where physical or sexual abuse is perpetrated by one spouse upon another. Frequently this involves forced sex (spousal rape) upon a spouse without his or her consent. Spousal abuse is inclusive of sexual abuse toward spouses (spousal sexual abuse)

Occupational misconduct

Main article: Professional client sexual relations
Main article: Sexual harassment

Sexual misconduct in occupational and educational settings can occur where one person makes use of their position of authority in order to compel compliance. A university student may feel compelled to comply with a professor's sexual advances for fear of being given a failing grade. Or an employee may likewise be coerced in exchange for not being terminated.

Sexual abuse of children/minors

Main article: Child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse refers to sexual abuse of a child (see also: minor) by an adult, or some other person significantly older or in a position of power or control over the child, where the child is used for sexual stimulation of another person.[2] Studies of the effects of child sexual abuse often define it as including invitations or requests in addition to actual actions, with regard to any sexual interactions between adult and child, from kissing or hugging to completed intercourse, and all other related activities.[3][4]

The American Psychiatric Association states that "children cannot consent to sexual activity with adults",[5][6] and condemns the action of the adult in strong terms: "An adult who engages in sexual activity with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act which never can be considered normal or socially acceptable behavior."[5]

Sexual misconduct by teachers is common in American schools according to a recent report in 2007.[7]

Sexual abuse of people with developmental disabilities

Main article: Sexual abuse of people with developmental disabilities

People with developmental disabilities are often victims of sexual abuse. According to research people with disabilities are at a greater risk for victimization of sexual assault or sexual abuse because of lack of understanding (Sobsey & Varnhagen, 1989). The rate of sexual abuse happening to people with disabilities is shocking, yet most of these cases will go unnoticed.

Childhood sexual abuse carried on into adulthood

For some children experiencing Childhood sexual abuse it may stop for various reasons, a girl may reach puberty, another child may be embolden to confront the abuse, the abuser may lose desire or die. For others though the sexual relationship may continue into adulthood which brings with it extra layers of shame and guilt which require attention in psychotherapy.

Psychological impact of sexual abuse

Main article: Childhood sexual abuse and subsequent mental health

See also


  1. Renvoizé, Jean (1982). Incest: A Family Pattern, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-71009-073-0.
  2. Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters, American Psychological Association, February 1998.
  3. Martin, J., Anderson, J., Romans, S., et al (1993). "Asking about child sexual abuse: methodological implications of a two-stage survey," Child Abuse and Neglect, 17, 383–392.
  4. Matt Reynolds, Qatari prince is sent home, The Prague Post
  5. 5.0 5.1 Leadership Council - APA Statement on Child Sexual Abuse Quote: " is the position of the Association that children cannot consent to sexual activity with adults."
  6. APA Letter to the Honorable Rep. DeLay (R-Tx.)
  7. Sexual misconduct plagues U.S. schools, AP reports -

Sorenson,Susan B. (1997). Violence and Sexual Abuse at Home: Current Issues in Spousal Battering and Child Maltreatment, New York: Haworth Press. ISBN 1-56024-681-2.

Further reading

  • Bass, Ellen and Laura Davis, 1988 (3rd ed. 1994). The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. Harper Collins Publishers.
  • Aba, C. (1992). Sexual Assaults on Students. London: Harper and Row.
  • Billie Wright Dzeich and Linda Weiner, 1984 (2nd ed. 1990). The Lecherous Professor: Sexual Harassment on Campus. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Cotheffe, James Gay Men and Childhood Sexual Trauma: Integrating the Shattered Self.
  • Doris Van Stone, (1990). No Place to Cry: The Hurt and Healing of Sexual Abuse. Moody Publishers.
  • Haines, Staci The Survivors Guide to Sex: How to Have an Empowered Sex Life after Child Sexual Abuse.
  • Haines, Staci Healing Sex (DVD) A diverse cast of men and women explore peace, healing and intimacy post-abuse.
  • Lew, Mike. Victime No Longer: Men Recovering from Incest and Other Sexual Child Abuse.
  • Wishart, G.D. (2003) The Sexual Abuse of People with Learning Difficulties: Do We Need A Social Model Approach To Vulnerability?, Journal of Adult Protection, Volume 5 (Issue 3)

External links

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