Sexual abuse is any form of forced or unwanted sexual activity. The perpetrator of sexual abuse may use physical force, make threats or take advantage of a person unable to give consent.
Sexual abuse mainly happens between people who know each other and can occur in the context of domestic violence.
Sexual abuse has impacts on a person’s physical and emotional health. It can lead to long-term mental health issues, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Types of sexual abuse
Sexual abuse includes:
- deliberately causing pain during sex
- assaulting the genitals
- forced sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- forcing someone to perform sexual acts
- using sexually degrading insults
- unwanted touching
- unwanted exposure to pornography
- sexual jokes
- withholding sex as punishment
- using sex to coerce compliance
Consent is key to healthy sexual experiences. Always have sex with consent. Do not pressure your partner into having sex or performing sexual acts they do not agree to.
Do not ignore someone if they say “No” or seem reluctant. Your partner always has the right to say “No” even if you are married or living together. Silence does not mean she agrees. Importantly, if someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they cannot consent.
Get more information about what men can do to prevent sexual abuse.
Learn more about the other types of abuse.
What to do if you are experiencing sexual abuse
If you have experienced sexual abuse, you can find help now.