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Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves a person being made to take part in sexual activity when they do not, or cannot, agree to this.

It doesn’t necessarily involve physical contact and can also take place online.

Sexual abuse with contact can include sexual touching and all penetrative sex without the individual agreeing to this and/or being forced to take part in sexual activity including rape, inappropriate touching, or sexual activity where the other person is in a position of power of authority. This also includes the attempt of any of these actions.

Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, which may include indecent exposure, inappropriate looking, sexual harassment, or sexual photography without consent.

Possible indicators of sexual abuse:

  • physical injuries including bruising, particularly to the thighs, buttocks and upper arms and marks on the neck
  • bleeding, pain or itching in the genital area
  • unusual difficulty in walking or sitting
  • pregnancy in a woman who is unable to consent to sexual intercourse
  • the uncharacteristic or significant changes in sexual behaviour or attitude
  • excessive fear/apprehension of, or withdrawal from, relationships
  • fear of receiving help with personal care
  • reluctance to be alone with a particular person
  • poor concentration, withdrawal, sleep disturbance
  • incontinence not related to any medical diagnosis

Getting help

The Rape and Sexual Abuse Line

An anonymous free listening service for women and men aged over 16 living in Devon, who have been raped or sexually abused, either recently, or in the past.

0808 800 0188

Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Service

A specialist support and counselling service for women aged 13 and over and men aged 13-25 who have experiences any kind of rape or sexual violence.

01392 208756

The Survivors Trust

A UK-wide national umbrella agency for 130 specialist organisations for support for the impact of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse throughout the UK and Ireland.

0808 801 0818