Sexual Abuse 101

…Until then, we’ve compiled some fundamental information on Physical Abuse for you, below, to help us integrate our actions against abuse.  If you have any additional information or feedback, please share!

What is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is any sexual act perpetrated against someone’s will. A person may be pressured, forced, or coerced to do something they do not want to do. Sexual abuse can co-occur with other types of abuse. Four types of abuse are considered to fit along the spectrum of sexual abuse:

  • A Completed (Nonconsensual) Sex Act: Contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus involving penetration, however slight; contact between the mouth and the penis, vulva, or anus; or penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object. Rape, incest, date/acquaintance rape, partner/marital rape, college rape, and gang rape fall under this category of sexual abuse.
  • An Attempted (but not completed) Sex Act: Unwanted kissing or touching, undesired contact.
  • Abusive Sexual Contact: Intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person without consent, or of a person who is unable to consent or refuse.
  • Non-Contact Sexual Abuse (Emotional and verbal abuse): Acts such as voyeurism; intentional exposure of an individual to exhibitionism; unwanted exposure to pornography; verbal or behavioral sexual harassment; threats of sexual violence to accomplish some other end; coerced nudity; or taking nude photographs of a sexual nature of another person without his or her consent or knowledge, or of a person who is unable to consent or refuse.

Sexual abuse can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s activity to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, restricting access to birth control and condoms, and keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Intimate partners and acquaintances have been found to be the common perpetrators in situations of sexual abuse.


Who does Sexual Abuse affect?

Like with other types of abuse, sexual abuse can happen to the elderly, adults, college students, and children and youth. It can happen to females, males, and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer) individuals regardless of race, socioeconomic background, appearance, and sexual orientation.


  • 10% of elders have reported emotional, physical, or sexual mistreatment or potential neglect.  However, many cases are not reported because elders are afraid to tell police, friends, or family about the violence.


  • Nearly 1 in 5 (18.3%) women and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives.
  • Approximately 1 in 20 women and men experienced sexual violence other than rape, such as being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact, or non-contact unwanted sexual experiences.

College Students:

  • In a nationally representative survey of adults, 37.4% of female rape victims were first raped between ages 18 to 24.

Children & Youth:

  • 2.3% female rape victims and 27.8% of male rape victims were first raped when they were age 10 or younger.

LGBTQ Individuals:

  • Men living with male intimate partners experience more intimate partner violence than do men living with female intimate partners. 15% of men who lived with a man as a couple reported being raped/assaulted or stalked by a male cohabitant.
  • In a study of 162 gay men and 111 lesbians, 52% reported at least one incident of sexual coercion by same-sex partners. Gay men experienced 1.6 incidents per person; while lesbians experience 1.2 incidents per person.


Where can you find out more about Sexual Abuse?

  • 10 Things No One Ever Told You About Life After Sexual Abuse

An illustrative post on life after sexual abuse by Psychologist Nina Burrowes. Please share this post so that people who are living with their abuse in isolation can find it:

  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network)

The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine.

  • National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)

The NSVRC’s Mission is to provide leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research.

Participate in NSVRC’s #VetoViolence social media campaign today!

Image Source: Stop Abuse campaign