What is Sexual abuse?

This may include:

  • Being forced to have sex with someone
  • Being made to touch someone’s genitals
  • Being made to perform sexual acts on someone
  • Being made to watch pornographic films or look at pornographic images
  • Being touched sexually when you don’t want to be
  • Being filmed photographed or watched in a sexual way

What is rape?

Rape is defined by the law as "penetration by the penis of somebody\'s vagina, anus or mouth without their consent" (The Sexual Offences Act 2003). A law called "Causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent" covers incidents where a man may be forced to have penetrative sex with a woman.

Why did it happen to me?

Sadly sexual abuse happens to as many as 1 in 10 children (Cawson et al. 2000). You may believe you caused it to happen, or should have made it stop. However, abuse is never the “victims” responsibility. If you have been sexually abused you may feel frightened, confused, alone, angry, or guilty. Abuse is always the responsibility of the abuser.

It happened a long time ago, why does is still bother me?

Feelings may be shut away for months or years; sometimes they are triggered by recent events such as a new relationship. Often though they come back to the surface and affect you. By talking to a counsellor you may be able to be less affected by what happened to you.

I didn't try to run away or fight back - what does that mean?

Many people do not fight or run, often because they are too frightened. Sometimes people will freeze or submit. This is a common response to sexual abuse.

I was abused when I was a young boy and I got an erection - what does that mean?

It is not uncommon for boys and men to get erections when are being sexually abused. All this means is that your body works properly: when parts of you are touched they will respond. Women and girls may also experience sexual sensations during rape and abuse. It does not mean that you enjoyed being abused.

I was abused when I was younger and I didn't tell anyone that it was happening - what does that mean?

Almost 75% of children do not tell anyone about their abuse whilst it is happening (Cawson et al, 2000). There can be many different reasons for not telling, such as fear, confusion, and worry, not knowing who to tell or how to tell. You will be able to talk to your counsellor about this and hopefully make your own sense of it.