Understanding and Preventing Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is any form of unwanted sexual contact. It affects people of all gender, ages and backgrounds and can have devastating impacts on victims. In order to protect ourselves and others, it’s important to understand what sexual abuse looks like, how it can be prevented, and what steps to take if it does occur.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
It’s important to recognize the potential signs of sexual abuse, so you can better protect yourself or those around you. Here are a few indicators of sexual abuse:
- Inappropriate touch: Touching in inappropriate places or with more force than necessary can be a sign of sexual abuse.
- Pressuring: Attempts to pressure someone into sex can be a sign of sexual abuse.
- Unwelcome advances: Comments, looks, or gestures with a sexual connotation that are unwanted by the recipient can be a sign of sexual abuse.
- Threatening: Threatening someone to obtain sexual contact or revenge for denying sexual contact is a sign of sexual abuse.
Preventing Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is never the fault of the victim, but there are several steps we can take to reduce the risk of it happening in the first place. Here are a few tips for preventing sexual abuse:
- Know your boundaries and communicate them: Make sure to clearly communicate what behaviors and activities you are and are not comfortable with, and respect the boundaries of those around you.
- Trust your instincts: If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important to listen to and trust those instincts.
- Be mindful of alcohol and drugs: Alcohol and drugs can impede judgement and make it more likely that people will ignore or not recognize their own boundaries.
- Be an active bystander: If you witness someone behaving in a way they view as inappropriate, intervene and help protect the potential victim.
What to Do If You Experience Sexual Abuse
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual abuse, it’s important to take action right away. Here are some steps to take if you’ve been sexually abused:
- Seek medical attention: If physical injuries have occurred, it’s important to seek medical attention.
- Find emotional support: Talking with a counselor, family member, or other confidant can help process the emotional aspects of the experience.
- Report the incident: Reporting the incident allows for justice to be served and may help others from experiencing similar abuse.
- Take care of yourself: While the process of healing can be difficult, prioritizing self-care is an important step.
Sexual abuse is a serious issue that can be both emotionally and physically devastating. Taking the steps to understand what abuse looks like, how to prevent it, and what to do if it occurs can help create a safer environment for everyone.