What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is when:
- You're being touched in a way you don't like
- You're being forced to have sex
- You're forced to look at sexual pictures or videos
- You're made to watch someone do something sexual. This can include someone flashing or exposing themselves to you; this can be via webcam, pictures or in person
- You're made to do something sexual to someone that feels uncomfortable or wrong; again, this can be online or in the real world
If this is happening to you, you might think that it's your fault. It isn't. No-one has the right to sexually abuse you, even your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you speak out about it, there are people who care - they will listen to you and help you.
It doesn't matter who the person is that is making you do these things, they are sexually abusing you. It is possible to be sexually abused by someone you know and love. This does not make what they are doing okay.
Is it sexual abuse if no-one actually touches me?
If someone touches themselves in a sexual way in front of you, or if they want you to touch yourself sexually in front of them (this could be online on webcam or through pictures) that's still sexual abuse. You are being sexually abused if someone makes you look at sexual material such as photos or films.
Will my boyfriend/girlfriend leave me if I don't have sex with them?
No-one should be forcing you or pressuring you into having sex. If you're under age 16, the law states you shouldn't be having sex at all. If you're over 16 and someone's trying to force you, that's illegal too. The law is there to protect you and keep you safe, not to get you in trouble.
If you are having sex with someone who is above the age of consent and you are underage, it is the person you are having sex with who is in the wrong, and not you.
Sex should be part of a loving and trusting relationship and if your sexual partner is putting pressure on you then they are not respecting you or how you feel. You do not have to stay with anyone who is making you do something that you do not want to do.
Talking to someone you trust about how you are feeling will help.
Who could be a sexual abuser?
It is more likely that sexual abuse would be by someone you know - it might even be someone you love and trust, male or female, old or young.
It's really embarrassing - do I have to talk about everything?
Sex when you don't want it is an abuse of you, and sexual abuse from someone you know is confusing and destroys trust. People who sexually abuse others are sometimes very skilful at making those they abuse feel guilty and ashamed about what happened so that they keep quiet about it. Sexual abuse can make you feel unsafe and dirty. If someone sexually abuses you the responsibility for what happened is theirs, not yours.
Who can I talk to?