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Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is abusive sexual behavior by one person upon another. It is often perpetrated using force or by taking advantage of another. When force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester. The term also covers any behavior by an adult or older adolescent towards a child to stimulate any of the involved sexually. The use of a child, or other individuals younger than the age of consent, for sexual stimulation is referred to as child sexual abuse or statutory rape. Live streaming sexual abuse involves trafficking and coerced sexual acts and or rape in real time on webcam.
Spousal sexual abuse is a form of domestic violence. When the abuse involves threats of unwanted sexual contact or forced sex by a woman's husband or ex-husband, it may constitute rape, depending on the jurisdiction, and may also constitute an assault.
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which a child is abused for the sexual gratification of an adult or older adolescent. It includes direct sexual contact, the adult or otherwise older person engaging indecent exposure (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.) to a child with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to intimidate or groom the child, asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities, displaying pornography to a child, or using a child to produce child pornography.
Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest, which can result in severe long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.
Globally, approximately 18-19% of women and 8% of men disclose being sexually abused during their childhood. The gender gap may be caused by higher victimization of girls, lower willingness of men to disclose abuse, or both. Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. Most child sexual abuse is committed by men; women commit approximately 14% of offenses reported against boys and 6% of offenses reported against girls. Child sexual abuse offenders are not pedophiles unless they have a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children.
People with developmental disabilities
People with developmental disabilities are often victims of sexual abuse. According to research, people with disabilities are at a greater risk for victimization of sexual assault or sexual abuse because of lack of understanding (Sobsey & Varnhagen, 1989).
People with dementia
Elderly people, especially those with dementia, can be at risk of abuse. There were over 6,000 "safeguarding concerns and alerts" at UK care homes from 2013 to 2015. These included alleged inappropriate touching and worse allegations. Offenders were most often other residents but staff also offended. It is suspected some care homes may deliberately overlook these offenses.
Sometimes abuse victims are not believed because they are not seen as credible witnesses due to their dementia. Perpetrators frequently target victims who they know are unlikely to be believed. Spouses and partners sometimes continue to pursue sexual relations, without realising they no longer have this right, because the person with dementia can no longer consent.
Sex abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse in nursing homes. If a nursing home fails to do proper background checks on an employee who subsequently abuses residents, the home can be liable for negligence. If nursing homes fail to supervise staff or train staff to recognise signs of abuse, the home can also be liable for negligence. Sexual activity by care givers may be a crime. Victims may not report abuse or cooperate with investigations due to associated stigma and/or reluctance to mention body parts.
Sexual abuse has been linked to the development of psychotic symptoms in abused children. Treatment for psychotic symptoms may also be involved in sexual abuse treatment.
In regards to long term psychological treatment, prolonged exposure therapy has been tested as a method of long-term PTSD treatment for victims of sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse prevention programmes were developed in the United States of America during the 1970s and originally delivered to children. Programmes delivered to parents were developed in the 1980s and took the form of one-off meetings, two to three hours long. In the last 15 years, web-based programmes have been developed.
Sexual misconduct can occur where one person uses a position of authority to compel another person to engage in an otherwise unwanted sexual activity. For example, sexual harassment in the workplace might involve an employee being coerced into a sexual situation out of fear of being dismissed. Sexual harassment in education might involve a student submitting to the sexual advances of a person in authority in fear of being punished, for example by being given a failing grade.
Sexual abuse is a problem in some minority communities. In 2007, a number of Hispanic victims were included in the settlement of a massive sexual abuse case involving the Los Angeles archdiocese of the Catholic Church. A qualitative study by Kim et al. discusses the experiences of sexual abuse in the US population of Mexican immigrant women, citing immigration, acculturation, and several other social elements as risk factors for abuse. To address the issue of sexual abuse in the African-American community, the prestigious Leeway Foundation sponsored a grant to develop www.blacksurvivors.org, a national online support group and resource center for African-American sexual abuse survivors. The non-profit group was founded in 2008 by Sylvia Coleman, an African-American sexual abuse survivor and national sexual abuse prevention expert.
Sexual abuse has been identified among animals as well; for example, among the Adélie penguins.
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^"Peer commentaries on Green (2002) and Schmidt (2002)". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 31 (6): 479-503. 2002. doi:10.1023/A:1020603214218. Child molester is a pejorative term applied to both the pedophile and incest offender.
^Brown, Rick; Napier, Sarah; Smith, Russell G (2020), Australians who view live streaming of child sexual abuse: An analysis of financial transactions, Australian Institute of Criminology, ISBN9781925304336 pp. 1-4.
^Schiff, M; Nacasch, N; Levit, S; Katz, N; Foa, EB (2015). "Prolonged exposure for treating PTSD among female methadone patients who were survivors of sexual abuse in Israel". Social Work & Health Care. 54 (8): 687-707. doi:10.1080/00981389.2015.1058311. PMID26399489.
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^Kim, T; Draucker, CB; Bradway, C; Grisso, JA; Sommers, MS (2017). "Somos Hermanas Del Mismo Dolor (We Are Sisters of the Same Pain): intimate partner sexual violence narratives among Mexican immigrant women in the United States". Violence Against Women. 23 (5): 623-642. doi:10.1177/1077801216646224. PMID27130923.
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