Webster defines sexual abuse as,
“a statutory offense that provides that it is a crime to knowingly cause another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat.”
Victims of sexual abuse, also referred to as sexual assault, can be children, adults, developmentally disabled persons, the elderly, males, females, of any race, any nationality, and any socio-economic category.
Most abusers and victims know each other. Victims of sexual abuse often suffer extreme psychological problems, which are more severe in such cases in contrast to abuse by a stranger. According to the American Psychological Association,
“Long-term symptoms include anxiety, fear or post-traumatic stress disorder. While efforts to treat sex offenders remain unpromising, psychological interventions for survivors — especially group therapy — appears effective.”
PublicHealth.org makes the following statical claims:
- an American is sexually assaulted every two minutes
- nearly 238,000 people in the US over the age of 12 years is assaulted annually
- 1 in 5 girls will be sexually abused in their lifetime
- 1 in 20 boys will be sexually abused in their lifetime
Because sexual abuse is a violation of a person in the most intimate way possible, it can affect the victim for life. Victims suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, disease, depression, shame, blaming of self, personality disorders, the propensity to become victims again, sexual dysfunctions, an increased risk of engaging in addictive behaviors, and a multitude of other issues.
Because sexual abuse is such a psychologically devastating event, a victim should seriously consider seeking professional mental health to help them overcome the effects of the abuse, even if the abuse occurred years earlier.