What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is a non-consensual sexual act that a person is forced to perform against their will. Sexual abuse involves penetration, forced kissing, groping, or sexual harassment.
Perpetrators of sexual abuse can target anyone regardless of age, gender, race, background, or class. Sexual abuse can be hard to define because of the many different forms it can take on, the different levels of frequency, the variation of circumstances it can occur within, and the various relationships that it may be associated with.
Was I sexually abused?: 5 signs to look out for
Coming to terms with sexual abuse can be a difficult and traumatic time for survivors. You may feel conflicted about accepting your experiences of sexual abuse; perhaps your abuser was a family member or person you trusted. You may not have defined your experiences as sexual abuse or understood that what happened to you was wrong. However, survivors of sexual abuse share some of the following experiences and behaviours. If you are wondering, “was I sexually abused?” these are some signs to look out for:
- Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and eating disorders
- Wanting to avoid people or places that remind you of the assault or abuse
- Feeling concern and confusion about sexual orientation following the abuse
- Feeling emasculated (if identifying as male)
- Feeling a loss of control over your own body
- Being unable to relax
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Feeling shame over not being able to put an end to the assault or abuse
- Fear of being judged or ridiculed if you speak out about what happened
What to do next
Survivors of sexual abuse may face many challenges as they begin their journey to recovery. Trivial, everyday tasks may serve as a trigger for survivors of sexual abuse. Additionally, those who experience sexual abuse may find it hard to navigate personal relationships, work and take part in activities.
All survivors of sexual abuse deserve to have safe places to talk about their experiences throughout their journey of recovery and healing. Support and professional help are available through online support groups, community groups and therapy. Here are some resources that can help adults with their experiences of sexual abuse:
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences live healthier, happier lives. 1in6 provides Resources and help for men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood.
Support, treatment, and advocacy for male survivors of abuse.
SIAWSO provides support and resources for anyone affected by child sexual abuse.
Get in touch
If you have experienced sexual abuse then you may be eligible for compensation. This money can never make up for the physical and mental damage caused by this violence of this nature, however sexual abuse compensation can provide you with significant financial help if you wish to enrol in counselling or therapy.
For more information, please call +0151 242 5111 for free confidential advice from an experienced and empathetic solicitor.