What is Sexual Abuse and Exploitation?
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. There can also be links to grooming.
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 non-consensual sexual activity or contact qualifies as sexual abuse, including:
- 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. 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
- Be violent towards them
- Try to isolate them from friends and family.
Spotting the Signs of Sexual Abuse/Exploitation
- 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
- Bruising, injury or sexually transmitted diseases
Often people who are being sexually exploited are unaware that they are victims of such abuse.
There can also be links with Modern Slavery where a person is trafficked and becomes a victim of sexual abuse.
Organisations like SARC Teesside and A Way Out specialise in supporting people who suffer from sexual abuse.