Sexual abuse, whether it occurs at the hands of a family member, mentor, teacher, caregiver, colleague, or stranger, is very traumatic and devastating to its victims. The mental and emotional scars that it leaves on a sexual abuse victim can last a lifetime. It is very important for the accused to be punished and that the victim gets justice. As much as the sexual abusers needs to be held accountable and penalised, people in a position of power and authority, who fail to protect those in their care, must also be held responsible for what happened under their watch.
If you or a loved one happens to be a victim of a sexual abuse or assault, consult a sexual assault lawyer as early as possible, to take up your case so that the accused be brought to justice.
While the legal definition of sexual abuse may vary by state and type, it generally means unwanted or unsolicited sexual contact. Apart from fondling and touching of a sexual nature, it also includes;
- Showing children explicit images, exposing them to sexually charged language and to pornography
- Taking inappropriate pictures of a children for personal use or for distribution
- Requesting the minor to send or take pictures of themselves in an inappropriate manner
- Revealing oneself to a child
- Oral sex
Cases of abuse typically involve misuse of power, and that may be because of a number of factors like:
Authority: Individuals holding a position of authority and power sexually abuse others by taking advantage of their situational superiority. An example of this would be a teacher getting sexually involved with a student. The student may feel obligated to take part in the abuse or may just feel helpless simply because the teacher holds a position of power.
Age: There are several instances where adults indulge in sexual acts with minors. Such a conduct is truly disgusting. Children are gullible and become easy prey for the predators. They are easily victimised as they are too young to protect themselves from the assault.
Physique: People who are physically strong and well built tend to exert themselves on others. Smaller or physically weaker individuals may shy away from stopping sexual abuse out of fear of being physically harmed.
Coercion: Children and mentally challenged individuals can be especially vulnerable to sexual assault. Perpetrators of such crime often concoct stories to justify their behaviour and discourage reporting.
How sexual abuse affects people
Harm caused by sexual abuse is not just physical in nature, the mental and emotional trauma of sexual harassment victims continue for a long time. Those who have been abused might develop unhealthy prejudices about physical relationships that can cause violent behaviours and emotional distress. Research has found that children who are sexually abused are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, addictions and personality disorders as they grow up.
Manifestations of a sexually abused child may include:
- Abrupt changes in behaviour, sometimes affecting their school activity.
- Depression and low self-esteem
- Sexually acting beyond their age. Promiscuity, unnatural interest in subjects of a sexual nature.
When children show symptoms of sexual abuse, elders have a responsibility to report such behaviours and take due care of the child. Health professionals, police, teachers, school employees and others have an obligation to ensure emotional and physical safety of the children. However, lawyers for sexual harassment have reported many cases of institutional disregard for the safety of children or others who are under their care.
All unwanted sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without any explicit consent of the recipient is construed as sexual assault. Acts of molestation or unwanted sexual advances are considered sexual assault. These include attempted rape, sodomy, forced sexual intercourse, child molestation, incest, or fondling.
Many sexual assault victims desist from reporting the incident as they feel discomfort and embarrassed about the entire situation. They sometimes feel that heir accusations might not be taken seriously or may even fear retaliation from the accused.
Sexual assault or sexual abuse victims should come forward with information about the incident and take legal action against their attacker. They must consult a sexual assault attorney or a sexual assault defence lawyer and narrate the entire incident in detail so that they can build a strong case against the accused and get severe punishment for them under the law