Staying safe

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is the involvement of people in sexual activities which:

  • they do not understand
  • they have not given consent to, or
  • violate the sexual taboos of the individual, family customs or usual practices.

It can include the involvement of people in sexual activities where one party is in a position of trust, power or authority.

Examples of sexual abuse

  • touching or being forced to touch another person in a sexual manner
  • being forced to watch pornography
  • being taken to adult entertainment without the full understanding of what this may involve and not being allowed to leave on request
  • being subject to sexual innuendoes and harassment
  • not having a choice about a care worker of the same sex to undertake intimate personal care

Indicators of sexual abuse

  • over sexualised behaviour or language or the use of sexualised behaviour or language where not previously used
  • pain, itching or injury in the anal, genital or abdominal area
  • difficulty in walking or sitting due to discomfort in genital area
  • bruises or bleeding in external genitalia
  • torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • venereal disease or recurrent bouts of cystitis
  • 'love-bites'
  • withdrawal
  • self-inflicted injury
  • disturbed sleep patterns
  • changes in usual behaviours, routines, appearance or dress.