A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn’t have to be physical contact, and it can happen online.
Child sexual abuse involves:
- sexual touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed, including using an object
- assault by penetration, including rape or penetration of the mouth with an object or part of the body
- encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity, including sexual acts with someone else or making a child strip or masturbate
- intentionally engaging in sexual activity in front of a child
- not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities by others
- meeting a child following sexual grooming, with the intent of abusing them
- taking, making, allowing someone to take, distributing, showing or advertising indecent images of children
- paying for the sexual services of a child
- encouraging a child into prostitution or pornography
- showing a child images of sexual activity, including photographs, videos or via webcams
Childhood sexual abuse can impact different people in different ways you may suffer panic attacks, phobias and/or flashbacks; anger and shame and/or feel worthless and you may develop depression or anxiety. Remembering only parts of what happened or remembering it in vivid detail, blaming yourself for what happened and being confused about your childhood relationships are all common responses to childhood sexual abuse.
It is important to understand that however you have been affected and whatever your feelings about the abuse, it is OK to feel whatever you do – your feelings are individual and normal.
It is also important to believe that it is never the fault of the child when they have been abused – the blame and guilt always lie with the abuser.
If you have experienced childhood sexual abuse and would like support please call our helpline or email us to talk to someone.
If you are a young person or child who is currently being abused you can call Child Line 0800 1111 for support.
If you are under 18 or you are telling us about a child who is being abused and you give us your name and address we may have to break your confidentiality and get some advice from other organisations who can help stop the abuse.
Sarah’s Law, or the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme allows parents, carers and guardians to ask the police to tell them if someone has a criminal record for child sexual offences. The scheme is for any member of the public who wants to find out if an individual in contact with a child has a record of child sexual offences. Click here for more information on Sarah’s Law