So, What Exactly is Sexual Abuse?

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
My therapist keeps stressing to me and my parents that I was sexually abused (not by my parents, someone else). Sexual abuse sounds like such a heavy term. I can't comprehend it. So, what exactly IS sexual abuse? And how does something classify as such?
Signed: So, What Exactly is Sexual Abuse?

Dear So, What Exactly is Sexual Abuse?,


Child Sexual Abuse is generally described as the sexual exploitation or victimization of a child by an adult, adolescent, or older child.  The difference in age and sexual knowledge between a child and an older person makes consent impossible. Sexual abuse can include a range of behaviors such as vaginal, anal, or oral penetration, fondling, exhibitionism, prostitution, photographing a child for pornography, and showing minors pornographic material. The sexual activity does not have to involve force. Very often the offender is known by the child and the perpetrators uses bribes or threatens violence unless the victim cooperates. Violence, bribes and intimidation are also used to gain the victims silence about the assault.


Sexual abuse is a “heavy term” since it can have tremendous emotional upheaval for the victim. TeenHealthFX is glad that you are seeing a therapist and strongly encourages you to continue to explore this issue. It might seem like the easier thing to do is forget about it or minimize the impact it had on you but this rarely works. Working with your therapist will help you come to terms with the sexual trauma and help you move on with your life.


If you would like more information about this topic check out the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) website.

Signed: TeenHealthFX