Sexual Abuse & Exploitation

There are many types of sexual abuse. Some victims may not even realise that they’ve experienced sexual abuse unless they become educated about the different forms of this violent act. Any type of nonconsensual sexual activity or contact qualifies as sexual abuse, including:

  • Rape
  • Date rape
  • Attempted rape
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Sexual harassment

Any sexual act or contact that makes someone feel uncomfortable, afraid, or intimidated could fall in the category of sexual abuse.


Sexual exploitation is the sexual abuse of an adult in exchange for attention, affection, food, drugs, shelter, protection, other basic necessities and/or money, and could be part of a seemingly consensual relationship.

The person being exploited may believe their abuser is their friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. The abuser may:

  • Physically or verbally threaten the victim
  • Take indecent photographs of them and circulate to others and be violent towards them
  • Try to isolate them from friends and family.
Possible signs of sexual exploitation include; unexpected or unexplained changes in behaviour, sudden withdrawal from social activities, cutting off ties with friends and family, fixation with a new mobile phone and a desire to hide who they are talking to. There may also be signs of sexual abuse, such as bruising, injury or sexually transmitted diseases. Often people who are being sexually exploited are unaware that they are victims of such abuse.

Help after Rape and Sexual Assault (NHS Choices)

Find Support in Your Area

Links to Other Websites

Prevention Information Sheet: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Sexual Assault Referral Centre: Teesside Bulletin Nov 2016