What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Published: May 26, 2022
Dear TeenHealthFX,
What is child sexual abuse?
Signed: What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Dear What is Child Sexual Abuse?,

Let us first start with discussing abuse. Abuse can take all shapes and forms. Abuse is a pattern of behavior that one person (the abuser) uses against some or many (the victim/ the victims) either to control, get power, or both over their victim. Unfortunately, these methods can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal, cultural and/or financial.

Sexual abuse has physical aspects and non-physical aspects to it. It involves forced sexual acts such as rape which is defined by Justice.gov as “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by sex organ of another person without consent of the victim”

In addition, sexual abuse is not only seen as physical force but psychological, emotional, verbal, and cultural forms as well. This abuse can happen between someone known to the victim or a stranger.

Sexual abuse of children occurs when the victim is under the age of 18. When the victim is under the age of 18, more laws go into effect. Its important to note that the abuser can be someone the child knows (and 93% of the time it is someone they know) or someone the child doesn’t know. The sexual abuse of a child is more than just the physical contact of sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is many things:

  • Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor
  • Fondling (touching private parts)
  • Intercourse
  • Masturbation in the presence of a minor or forcing the minor to masturbate
  • Obscene conversations, phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction
  • Producing, owning, or sharing pornographic images or movies of children
  • Sex of any kind with a minor, including vaginal, oral, or anal
  • Sex trafficking
  • Any other contact of a sexual nature that involves a minor

If you, or someone you know is being sexually abused, please speak with a parent or trusted adult, teacher, counselor, or police as soon as possible. There are people who can help you.

For more information or report an abuser visit the site: https://www.rainn.org/ to live chat or call the number (800) 656-4673. 

Signed: TeenHealthFX