Within the UK child abuse is defined as someone causing significant harm to another person under the age of 18years old. A child can be abused in many different forms the most common forms of abuse are listed below and will be covered separately:
Child abusers are not limited to persons over the age of 18, other children can also be the perpetrators of abuse this includes among others friends, bullies or even family members. The majority of abusers are not strangers, this can put added pressure on the child to remain silent or to not 'Rock the boat' as some would say. This does not mean strangers will not abuse, but are rather less likely.
Although not an excuse, not all child abusers realise they are doing harm to a child, or realise that they are abusing at all. Stress and other life events may cause someone to strike or lash out at a child, causing serious physical or emotional harm. A parent or guardian that crosses the line between discipline and abuse, may not realise they have done harm to a child.
This however doesn't matter once that line has been crossed it cannot be undone, permanent damage or emotional scarring may already have been done to the child. It may only take one act of abuse to a child to initiate a negative response, may this be physical or emotional damage. Unfortunately it doesn't usually stop there, cycles of abuse will generally follow with each cycle becoming worse and affecting the child further until action is taken to prevent re-occurrence.
Child sexual abuse involves any use of a child for sexual stimulation, this could involve physically touching or allowing the child to touch the perpetrator in a sexual manner, even touching in a non sexual manner for the means of gratification can be as serious. Asking or pressurising a child to engage in sexual activity, including the showing of genitalia or breasts, grooming of a child for sexual means or the production / distribution of indecent imagery.
Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child even if the child is not involved with the activity, on the sole premise to gain gratification from the presence of that child is also a criminal offence.
Under the law a child under 16 is not competent when giving consent, this includes sexual activity, any intercourse with anyone under the age of 16 is classified as statutory rape, this includes the penetration of a mouth or anus, even if the child either initiates or complies with the abuse.
Taking, storing or distributing images or movies of someone in a sexual pose or states of undress is illegal if the model is under the age of 18. Indecent images sent to persons under the age of 18 is also deemed sexual abuse.
As humans we are social and sexual beings, when anyone especially a child is violated sexually this may destroy any pleasure in later life, feeling dirty and disgusted at the thought of any type of sexual or social interaction.
Please note: Arousal (Including orgasm) is an automatic response to sexual stimuli and can cause a lot of problems with those that are sexually abused as it may have felt nice. These feelings are not signs of consent, with or without these feelings it is still statutory rape, and most importantly 'Not your fault'.
Why are children sexually abused ?
There are a number of reasons why a child may become sexually abused, although not extensive some of the reasons are:
Learned behaviour, from previously abused victims (Believing it is a way of showing affection or belief it is normal).
To gain control or power over the victim.
Personal gain, such as social, gratification or financial.
Peer pressure (Such as ritual, right of passage or part of a cult).
Symptoms of child sexual abuse
Victim feelings & behaviour
Change of behaviour when the abuse starts
Blaming themselves and neglecting their own needs
Talking and acting out sexual ideas that do not correspond with their own age or peer group
Acting sexually to others inappropriately such as flirting or using sex as a way of getting things, such as prostitution
Bleeding or physical damage to parts of their body
Unable to sleep including nightmares and bed wetting
Scared of physical or social contact, especially with the perpetrator
Becoming secretive and hostile towards those that try to acknowledge changes in behaviour
Any form of self harm eg. substance abuse, cutting, scratching, biting, pulling of hair etc...
Suicidal ideologies and acting upon them
Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia
Sudden change of appearance either dressing promiscuously or undesirable
Sexual obsession or obsessed with how society or others perceive sex
Feel afraid or powerless around abuser.
Feelings of anger and resentment both towards self and abuser.
Feeling isolated, excluded and feelings of loneliness.
Feeling dirty, ashamed and physically ill.
Making excuses not to be in the presence of abuser.
Withdrawal from previously happy situations or from those close to the victim.
Emotionally blank, having a loss of any emotional feelings.
Inappropriate sexual comments, or comments that could be associated with grooming.
Requests or demands to either touch or to be touched, in a sexual or inappropriate manner.
Requests or demands to pose sexually, wear revealing clothing and/or to be photographed.
Intercourse, including mouth, anus or vaginal.
Exposure of areas deemed sexual such as nipples and genitalia.
Storing or sending indecent images of children.
Sending sexualised images of any age group to children.
Sexting with a child. (Sending /responding to explicit text messages of a sexual nature)
People of responsibility such as teachers, having a sexual relationships with a former pupil under 18.
Reasons for not reporting sexual abuse
Was unsure if it was abuse, did I lead the abuser on.
Fear of reprisals if a complaint is made.
No self-esteem and feelings of self loathing.
Fear of exclusion or isolation.
Fear of not being believed.
Unsure how to complain or get help.
Feelings of self blame and self loathing.
Blackmail or threats made to prevent me complaining.
Loss of memory of the incident, due to psychological trauma or not wishing to relive the abuse through speaking out.
Fear it will break the family apart, or the blame of a breakdown in relationship.
Belief it will never happen again.
Falling for the person who is abusing, or that the person cares about me.
Scared of repercussions, will the abuser be sent to prison.