What is Childhood Sexual Abuse?
*Trigger warning. Please be aware that the following information may be difficult to read and may affect you. If you are a survivor reading this please make sure you take care of yourself and ensure you have someone you can talk about the impact it has on you.
It is acknowledged that childhood sexual abuse happens a lot more frequently than people would have believed, or have wanted to believe in the past. The most up to date data currently in the UK comes from the ONS Time Survey 2016, which attest that 7% of the population experienced sexual assault in childhood. To put this is context – less people have diabetes in the UK! had more here https://www.ons.gov.uk/
Some survivors are well aware of the trauma they experienced in childhood. They may be troubled by memories of abuse, and they continue to live with the pain, confusion and feelings of loneliness they experienced as a child.
Other survivors may not remember that they have been abused, or they may only remember some experiences of abuse or not be sure at all. They may not understand or acknowledge that what they experienced was abuse or neglect.
It is very common for survivors to deny that an experience was abusive, or to minimise the seriousness of the abuse by thinking or saying ‘it only happened once’ or ‘it wasn’t so bad’. Many survivors live with symptoms of abuse, such as panic attacks, strange body sensations, inexplicable fears and anxiety, or aches and pains, that they are unable to explain. Their body remembers what happens to them, and they relive the emotions and feelings associated with abuse over and over again – but many survivors don’t connect these symptoms to their childhood abuse.
You may not be sure if you were sexually abused or not so we have listed some of the things that have happened to people who we’ve worked with as a guideline. Please note this is not comprehensive and if you are in any doubt about whether you were sexually abused as a child please feel free to get in touch or discuss with a healthcare professional.
Sexual abuse involves an abuse of power – the abuser being an adult or an older child. Sexual abuse also involves an abuse of trust.
Childhood Sexual Abuse can include (but is not limited to) the following:
- Being cuddled or kissed in a way that made you feel uncomfortable
- Being bathed or cleaned in a way that made you feel uncomfortable
- Having to look at other peoples genitals
- Having to touch other peoples genitals
- Having your own breasts or genitals touched
- Having to pose for photographs or videos of a sexual nature
- Being shown films and/or having to listen to sexual talk
- Having your vagina or anus penetrated by a penis, finger or object