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Sexual abuse is a serious issue that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It is a form of violence that can have devastating effects on the physical, emotional, and mental health of survivors. Sexual Abuse is a social phenomenon that exist in every society. A larger percentage of abusers are those in a position of power or authority. Abuser can either be one’s superior in office, relations, neighbors, friends or a colleague in the office.
Sexual Abuse – an act of violence which an abuser uses against someone perceived weak for sexual gratification. It is a sexual activity without the consent of the one abused. The abuser who is also seen as a molester apply force and possibly threats while taking advantage of the victim who refuses to give their consent. Sexual Abuse is a crime committed deliberately and not borne out of uncontrollable sex drive as some people believed. It is done with the aim of humiliating and taking advantage of the victim. Unfortunately, it is a problem that is all too common in our society, and one that requires ongoing awareness, education, and action to address.
One of the main challenges in addressing sexual abuse is that it often goes unreported. This can be due to a number of factors, including fear of retaliation, shame and self-blame, and mistrust of the criminal justice system. Additionally, some survivors may not even realize that they have been abused, or may not have the language or understanding to describe what has happened to them.
1. Rape: This is sexual intercourse carried out againt someone’s wish
2. Spousal Abuse: Women tends to be the one affected the most when analyzing spousal abuse, though not entirely. Spousal abuse is a form of violence against one’s spouse involving physical or sexual abuse without any consent from the other partner. (The abused). Even though sex intercourse within the confines of marriage is considered as a right for spouses, it will be termed rape if sexual act is carried out without the consent of the other spouse.
3. Child Sexual Abuse : This is a situation where an adult engages in sexual activity with someone considered a minor for the purpose of sexual pleasure (gratification). It includes sexual molestation, sexual exploitation and rape. A typical example is seen where an adult exposes a minor to pornography or sexual acts carried out by others, or victimising a minor for sex gains. (Prostituting a child).
As opposed to a general belief that only females are the victims of sexual abuse, the males are not left out, they fall victims too though not as much as the females do. Some club house, drinks/smoking hub, lounge, or joints as some call it employs mostly teenagers who are yet to attain adulthood i.e. 18 years as a sales person. They makes advertisements for a sales representative but in actual fact they are sourcing for girls and boys meant for sex trafficking. The real job description is prostituting but in order to avoid penalties of the law against such act and the stigma attached to it, they are referred to as sales girl/boys in disguise.
4. Imposed sodomy: This is the act of having sexual intercourse through the anus or subjecting one to participating in oral sex againt one’s will.
5. Incest: Sexual intercourse between members of a family.
6. Rape: illicit sexual activity which includes sexual intercourse carried out under protest or threat against the will of the abused.
7. Undesirable or pressured sexual contacts.
8. Sexual harassment/exploitation.
1. Force or exploiting you into having sexual intercourse
2. Forced to engage in sexual activities when you are not in a state of consciousness to give your approval.You may either be intoxicated or sleeping.
3. When you are compelled to do what is against your will sexually.
4. When you are being hurt with objects and you feel agonized during sex
5. Binded, pinned down and you experience choking during sex without your consent.
6. Engaging more than one person in sexual activities without their approval. (This is also known as threesome).
7. When you are forced to watch or participate in pornography.
8. When you are compelled into having sex with animals. Which is called bestiality
9.Touching or forcing the victim to touch and fondle the molester.
10. Making the victim to look at a naked genital.
11. Exposing naked body for the victim to see probably to get him/her arouse.
12. Taking part in sexual movies.
13. Watching sexual activities like masturbation and oral sex.
Effects Of Sexual Abuse
There are immediate psychological upshot and more dreadful effects that can influence one’s adaptation throughout the developmental stage (In cases of child sexual abuse). This is as a result of forceful and aggressive penetration from the abuser, The immediate psychological effect in both adult and a child who have been sexually abused includes:
– Tension/Anxiety: This comes as a result of intense worry over the experience.
– Symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
– Withdrawing from people and a feeling of being isolated
The most common of these effect can be seen in their behavioral patterns – psychological distress, improper sexual behavior, the show of anger, having a low self esteem, suspicious of people around them, all of these eventually leads nto depression – a condition associated with elevating or lowering of a person’s mood.
People who have been sexually abused may develop High Blood Pressure.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol.
The feelings of shame and guilt – Sexual Abuse leads to tension when interacting with others. For someone who have experience sexual abuse, it is very difficult to tell someone about it because they feel shy and a sense of guilt.
Loss of confidence in relating with friends and families.
Sexual Abuse also leads to abnormal behavior which makes a victim hyper-sexualized (craving for sex at all times), which may eventually leads to prostitution.
1. Exploitation: Taking advantage of one’s adverse situation for sexual gratification. Girls and women are mostly affected here. Exploitation may take place in a commercial or house job where victims are the mercy of their employers and away from prying eyes or family members who may provide a shield against such actions.
2. Most cases of sexual abuse are borne out of hardship, the girl child especially is subjected to hawking on the street in order to take part in fulfilling the family needs, and will later become a victim to adult molester who pretend to patronise her in disguise just to take advantage of their vulnerability.
2. Health Problems: People living in poor health or mental condition, physical/learning disabilities are also susceptible to sexual abuse.
3. Sexual Abuse at times stems from a reprisal attack- an act of retaliation on a victim for a misconduct or turning down proposal from the molester.
4. Indecent Dressing: A deliberate exposure of one’s body to the public which is contrary to the acceptable standards and values of the society. While this factor had continue to raise dust in some quarters as to whether it matters or not? Well, It depends on the society, the western world may view it as something insignificant but here in Africa it is of great importance to be well covered, it is believed that when you expose part of the body which leaves nothing to the imagination, you attract the opposite sex which may lead to sexual abuse, this belief though is opposed to another school of thought that says ‘the only factor that influences whether a female will get raped or not is the decision or intention of the man contemplating it. (The Nation – Feb 25, 2021)
When sexual abuse is reported, it is often met with skepticism, blame, or dismissiveness, which can make it even harder for survivors to come forward. This is particularly true for marginalized communities, such as people of color, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, who may face additional barriers in seeking justice and support.
To effectively combat sexual abuse, it is crucial that we work to create a culture that believes and supports survivors, rather than doubting or blaming them. This means educating ourselves and others about the realities of sexual abuse, and working to dismantle the societal structures and beliefs that allow it to occur. It also means creating a criminal justice system that is responsive to the needs of survivors, and providing accessible resources and support for those who have been affected by abuse.
One important step in addressing sexual abuse is creating awareness, educate and breaking the silence around it. Many people may not understand the different forms of abuse and this lack of knowledge can prevent individuals from identifying abuse when they experience it. Encourage people to talk openly and freely about sexual abuse, and to recognize that it is not something that only happens to other people.
Another important step is to provide support for survivors. This means making sure that they have access to medical care, therapy, and other forms of help to heal from the trauma of abuse. It also means creating safe and confidential spaces for survivors to talk about their experiences and to receive validation and support.
Ultimately, combating sexual abuse is not something that can be done by any one person or organization, but rather it requires a collective effort from all of us. By raising awareness, supporting survivors, and working to change the culture and systems that allow abuse to occur, we can create a more just and equitable society in which everyone is able to live without fear of sexual violence.
It is note worthy that the responsibility of preventing abuse lies on the perpetrator and not the survivor. And, it is also important to remember that abuse does not discriminate, it affects people from all walks of life. Sexual abuse is unacceptable, and it is up to all of us to take a stand against it.
One of the key issues in addressing sexual abuse is the lack of accountability for perpetrators. Many times, abuse is not reported because survivors fear that their abuser will not be held responsible for their actions. Even when cases are reported to the police, there is often a lack of evidence to support a conviction, and many perpetrators are not brought to justice. This can leave survivors feeling as though their abuse has not been taken seriously, and can further compound the trauma they have already experienced.
Another important aspect to consider is how gender-based discrimination plays a role in sexual abuse. Often, women and girls are at a higher risk of sexual violence, and their experiences are often dismissed, trivialized, or not taken seriously by society. Furthermore, the intersectionality of identities can increase the risks, women of color or LGBTQ individuals have a higher chance of being sexually abused. To combat this, it’s essential to create a culture that promotes gender equality, and that values the voices and experiences of marginalized groups.
Prevention also plays an important role in addressing sexual abuse. Educating people, particularly children and young adults, about what constitutes healthy relationships, and providing them with the tools to identify, prevent, and respond to sexual abuse is vital. We must also work to change societal norms that perpetuate rape culture, such as objectifying women, normalizing sexual harassment, and promoting unhealthy and toxic stereotypes of masculinity.
It is very important to understand that sexual abuse is not just a legal issue, but also a public health issue. Studies have shown that survivors of sexual abuse are at a higher risk for a range of health issues, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic physical conditions. It is essential that health care providers are trained to recognize and respond to the needs of survivors, and that they have access to appropriate care and support.
Sexual abuse comes in different form and takes emotional toll on the victim, but it is possible to live a healthy and happy life irrespective of your experience, Understanding the widespread of sexual abuse in our society is not an easy task because most victims do not feel at ease reporting an abuse considering the stigma attached, coupled with having a mixed feelings about the molester who may be a close relation, a friend or a trusted ally. Thus, educating victims of sexual abuse and giving tips on how to cope with the experience will help them to move on and live the best life thereafter.
Many families of the victim choose the ‘settle out of court’ option, this happens mainly if the molester is a close contact like a family member, neighbour, teacher etc. This option is taken when a molester’s reputation is at stake in the society. As much as this option is frowned at in the civilsed world, it is becoming a norm in most rural society. The rule of law should be applied here. Let the law take its course.
Victims may fear punishment either from the attacker or the society, this may take the form of physical violence, rejection by the society and other form of physiological attack. These should be reported to appropriate authorities and steps taken to prosecute offender. Efforts made to sweep abuse cases under the carpet should also be exposed.
Victims of sexual abuse should seek for the service of a mental health professional.
Get a therapist to help deal with your feelings and to also take you through the stress management techniques.
In conclusion, sexual abuse is a pervasive and complex issue that affects far too many people in our society. To effectively address it, we must work to create a culture that believes and supports survivors, provides accountability for perpetrators, promotes gender equality and prevents abuse. It’s important for the society to take the responsibility of creating a safe environment for everyone and ensure that everyone has the access to the resources they need to heal and move forward. We must continue to have open and honest conversations about sexual abuse, to break the silence and end the culture of shame and blame that surrounds this issue.
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