Sadly, people who have been the victims of sexual abuse may believe that they are in some way to blame. It is important for people to know that perpetrator is the one who is in the wrong; committing acts that go against nature and God. Sexual abuse can be an act of someone touching another in an inappropriate way. It can also be as serious as an adult having sex with a child. When a person has sex with another person who does not consent to it, even if an adult, this is also sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can also happen to a person in a relationship. If a partner forces the other to perform sexual acts, have intercourse or hurts them while having sex; this is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is a form of mistreatment that should never be tolerated. A teen who is the victim of sexual abuse should know that they are not to blame. They should talk to someone; a parent, a teacher, a guidance counselor, a trusted family adult friend or a trusted neighbor and ask for help. No one ever asks to be sexually abused and help is there for teens who will ask for it.
When most of us think of sexual abuse, we think of inappropriate touch: fondling, forced masturbation, even outright rape. But there is also an insidious kind of sexual abuse that requires no bodily contact whatsoever. Sexual emotional abuse. Sexual emotional abuse may accompany different kinds of physical sexual abuse, or it may exist completely on its own.
Either way, its effect on the child is profound and lasting.
What Is Sexual Emotional Abuse?
Sexual emotional abuse involves making sexually inappropriate comments to a child.
- Making rude, offensive remarks about the child’s body (”Your boobs are growing huge.”) or about friends of the child.
- Joking about the child having sexual relationships with other people (”Don’t save it all for your girlfriend, boy!”).
- Telling sexually explicit jokes that are not appropriate for the child’s age.
- Sexualizing normal child behavior (for instance, implying that a child engaged in normal play is somehow being deliberately sexually enticing).
- Threatening to sexually assault the child.
- Forcing the child to look at his or her genitals.
- Showing the child pornography.
This sad, disgusting list could go on, but you get the idea.
Warning Signs of Sexual Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is a powerful weapon because it is very subtle. Most children do not even know how to give emotional abuse a name, although they are almost universally aware that something is horribly wrong.
Unable to give words to their ordeal, children often develop symptoms to hint at what’s going on. Some symptoms may include:
Sudden change in mood or behavior. The child may become withdrawn and shy. Other children act out, becoming aggressive or abusive to peers.
Referring to their body in vulgar terms you have not heard them use before. Sexual emotional abuse objectifies the child. In turn, the child learns to objectify him or herself. For instance, a girl might start referring to her breasts as her “big titties.”
Asking sexual questions beyond what you would consider age-appropriate or that refer to another adult’s genitals. For instance, the child might ask if all women have hair down there “like Aunt Sally.”
Body shame. Your child may try to protect him or herself from further verbal abuse by hiding his or her body under several layers of clothes or behind shapeless and unflattering outfits. Your child may also start to exhibit poor hygiene and grooming.
Extreme self-consciousness. Not wanting to appear “provocative,” your child may become super aware of his or her every movement. For instance, a child who has been teased about his “cute ass” may do everything in his power to avoid turning his back on you.
Reluctance to spend time with the abuser. For instance, the child may suddenly scream and cry when left at daycare or refuse to let his once-favorite uncle take him fishing anymore.
If you suspect abuse, talk to your child. Explain that some grown-ups are mean and get a charge out of saying or doing things that make hurt kids and make them feel uncomfortable about their bodies. Tell your child that if a grown up is doing this to them, you will protect your child and make the abuse stop.
And whatever else you may say or do, make sure your child knows you love them just the way they are.
Got an Abusive Relationship? Stop it!
There are not many more difficult situations to get out of than that of an abusive relationship. Some might think that physical or even sexual abuse, the kind that is evident, is the most destructive, but research suggests otherwise.
A ten month old infant is consistently “flicked” in the head just so dad can watch him cry. However, when the crying doesn’t cease, dad gets mad, pushes the child down or drags him by his arm to the bedroom where the door is then locked. The child continues to cry, mom is upset and tells dad that he is being “too hard” on the little child and the fight is on. After having other children taken from their home, the situation escalates into the ten month old in a coma he’ll never recover from, mom is charged with “permitting abuse” and dad is sent to jail to await trial. Waiting to see if the child dies, which would be best for him in the long run, the prosecutors are eager to pursue murder charges.
According to a recent report, emotional wounds, inflicted during an abusive relationship, last longer than any other scar. This emotional abuse can include neglect, harmful words and actions and can be inflicted by anyone. Most often, emotional abuse inflicted by family members is less devastating than that of persons outside the immediate family.
Although strange, individuals who are involved in abusive relationships of any kind feel that the cause lies within them; something about them is not right. They may feel as if they’re not “good” enough or smart enough or pretty enough or successful enough. None of these “rationalizations” is ever accurate. In fact, abuse often has less to do with the victim than it does the one doing the victimizing.
Sexual abuse is second on the list of the longest lasting wounds. Typically at the hands of someone the victim knows, they become an object of desire or hate and the perpetrator takes their rage out on the undeserving. There is no gender specification and sadly, no age specification. These types of relationships scar people for life sometimes. No one deserves to be treated this way…by anyone!
If you are the victim of an abusive relationship the most important thing you can learn is this: you can get out. There are a million arguments for NOT leaving an abusive relationship. The bottom line is this: while expressing anger is a normal and healthy part of any relationship, threats and attacks either verbal or physical are NOT healthy and you do not have to stay in a relationship that is unhealthy.
You owe it to yourself to find an alternative living arrangement and allow others to help you transition out of this stage of your life. Any local telephone book will list hotline numbers to call if you feel you are the victim of abuse. There are also local agencies that will allow you to live temporarily, even with children and/or pets, while they provide assistance in searching for a safer place for you to live. There is no reason to stay in a situation that doesn’t provide safety and security. You DO deserve better.