Unlike emotional, physical or verbal abuse, sexual abuse is the least discussed form of abuse however it is as common as the rest. Why do we not openly discuss it? Although we as a nation have become better at addressing cases related to sexual abuse, we still tend to associate it with shame and guilt. Victims do not want others to know their abuse stories because it is embarrassing, it leads to labelling and ostracizing. Sadly, we do engage in blaming the victim for their mishappenings. Why does our sympathy and concern not go towards the victim? This topic is still considered a taboo in our society and victims show hesitation in order avoid blame.
People often confuse sexual abuse and harassment. Sexual harassment involves unwanted advances that are sexual in nature such as unwanted touching, unnecessary proximity to another person, comments or teasing that involve sexual elements or inappropriate texts, but this is not an exhaustive list. Sexual abuse involves non-consensual sexual acts such as rape or inappropriate touching. Sexual harassment is often considered the first step towards sexual abuse and the victims silence at this first step often leads to sexual abuse, for which the society is the culprit.
Sexual abuse can involve children and adults alike. Children are forced to engage in sexual acts after which they are made to feel guilty so that they do not disclose the incident. Adults are also engaged forcefully, but in the dynamics of this abuse the perpetrator is dominant in terms of status or power. Relatives and strangers alike are reported to be perpetrators in cases of sexual abuse which is often not a onetime story.
There are some types of sexual abuses that are more common than others. Marital rape, is an example of abuse in a relationship where the dominant partner takes advantage of the submissive partner. It is common but goes unreported because people do not even acknowledge that they undergo marital rape. Another common type of sexual abuse is incest where parents, siblings, cousins or other close relatives take advantage of weak or submissive individuals in the family. In incest, emotional abuse and guilt keeps the victim trapped in the cycle of abuse. Lastly, another common type of sexual abuse that is largely ignored is towards animals. Sexual abuse towards animals involves forceful sexual acts with animals which is mostly common in lower socioeconomic classes.
Why is sexual abuse common? Sexual abuse is a means of gratification and satisfaction that stems from two factors. The first factor is the positive feeling that it leaves the perpetrator with and the second factor is the sense of power and control. As can be seen, sexual abuse is entirely different in theory from emotional, physical and verbal abuse. As can be noticed that in all forms of abuse, the most difficult one to tackle is sexual abuse.
Read about the prevalence and the ways to handle abuse