Sexual Abuse

Child and adolescent sexual abuse includes a wide range of sexual behaviors that take place between a child and an older person. These sexual behaviors are intended to erotically arouse the older person, generally without consideration for the reactions or choices of the child and without consideration for the effects of the behavior upon the child.

Behaviors that are sexually abusive often involve bodily contact, such as in the case of sexual kissing, touching, fondling of genitals, and oral, anal or vaginal intercourse.

However, behaviors may be sexually abusive even if they don’t involve contact, such as in the case of genital exposure (“flashing”), verbal pressure for sex and sexual exploitation for purposes of prostitution or pornography.

What are the symptoms of Sexual Abuse?

Listed below are some common secondary symptoms of abuse survivors. This list is not comprehensive, nor do all abuse survivors manifest these behaviors. However, many of these symptoms are present in older teens and adults who’ve experienced sex abuse:

  • Anger management problems
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, etc.)
  • Body image problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Sexual dysfunction or confusion
  • Self-mutilation (cutting, burning, etc.)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Hypervigilance
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Dysfunctional relationships
  • Spiritual void or disillusionment
  • Performance-based self-value
  • Intimacy problems
  • Trust issues
  • Poor self-image