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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is sexual abuse?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    ASCA is an Australian national charity which advances the health and wellbeing of people and communities affected by child abuse, for this and future generations.ASCA … View Profile

    Sexual abuse describes any incident in which an adult engages a minor in a sexual act, or exposes the minor to inappropriate sexual behaviour or material. Sexual abuse also describes any incident in which a child is coerced into sexual activity by another child. A person may sexually abuse a child using threats and physical force, but sexual abuse often involves subtle forms of manipulation, in which the child is coerced into believing that the activity is an expression of love, or that they child bought the abuse upon themself. Sexual abuse involves contact and non-contact offences.
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  • Dianne Zebic

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist

    Dianne Zebic has retired as of 31/01/2015 View Profile

    Sexual Abuse can occur for both children and adults in our society. Some examples are listed below for sexual abuse

    Sexual Abuse for Adults

    1. Forcing your partner or another person to have sex with you when they tell you ‘NO’
    2. Touching your partner or other person inappropriately in their private parts if they don't feel comfortable and ask you to stop
    3. Sexual Harrassment in the workplace eg. Your boss decides to walk pass you and tells you ‘Oh you have such lovely large breasts’
    4. At work your boss taps you with his hand on your bottom is classified as sexual harrassment or sexual assault
    5. Talking in a sexually explicit manner to another person and harrassing them to respond back to you
    6. Asking your partner or other person for too many sexual favours and using intimidation and making threats if they dont comply
    7. Asking your partner to have sex with other people while you watch
    8. Or bathing an elderly person and touching them in their private parts whilst you trying to dress them
    9. Being unfaithful and cheating on your partner and having many other sexual partners
    10. Rapeing someone without their consent

    Other examples of Child Abuse/ Child Sexual Assault include:

    1. Forcing a child under the age 16 years of age into any type of sexual activity (under the NSW Child Protection Laws) this law may vary from state to state
    2. Showing a child any pornographic films
    3. touching the child in their private parts and grooming them 
    4. bathing a child who is at an age where they can bath themselves eg it would be inappropriate for a father to bath his 12 year old daughter.
    5. For parents to be naked infront of their children
    6. For parents to talk in a sexual nature infront of their children
    7. Child being exposed to internet porn
    8. Theatening to harm the child if they tell someone
    9. Giving child rewards if they engage in any sexual activities with an adult

    There would be other types of examples, as I had only mentioned a few in my above response, and I hope this information may assist you.

    If you feel any child had been sexually abused you can contact DOCS or your local police station.

    Kids and parents can also contact the Kidshelpline and chat to a counsellor if they have any concerns. For all adults who had been sexually abused go to your nearest police station or seek legal advice. For both children and adults seek help from a counsellor or psychologist that specialises in Sexual Abuse Counselling issues or call Lifeline on 131114

  • Victoria Bel

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I work from a position of compassion and empathy, informed by Buddhist practice. I have over 20 years' experience in both the public and private … View Profile

    Sexual abuse occurs whenever a person is exposed to the sexual behaviour of another person in circumstances in which they are unable to give free and informed consent. The sexual behaviour can include unwanted touching of private parts, the other person exposing their genitalia to you - ether in person or by sending explicit photos, engaging in sexual behaviour in your presence eg. masturbation, lewd sexual comments either in person, phone calls or social media. Circumstances in which free and informed consent cannot be given include when the victim is underage, when the victim is under the influence of alcohol or substances, when the victim feels coerced such as fear for the safety of themselves or their children, if the victim has a disability or if the aggressor is in a position of power or authority such as an employer, cleric, medical or allied health professional. Not all these circumstances would necessarily meet the requirements for a successful legal prosecution but they often leave the victim with a range of unpleasant feelings including confusion, guilt, distress, powerlessness and anger. 

    Victoria Bel

    Clinical Psychologist 

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