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Sexual abuse and sexual violence is when someone is forced or pressured into doing something sexual. It can also be when someone is tricked into doing something sexual. If someone can’t make their own choice because they’re scared or doesn’t know what is happening to them (if they are unconscious) that is also sexual violence.

Sexual abuse and sexual violence are against the law.

Abusers can be strangers, or also people we care about like family members or people we’re in a relationship with.

Abusers can be male or female.

Nobody should be made to do anything of a sexual nature that they don't want to do or that makes them feel uncomfortable or bad about themselves.

Even if someone agrees to be involved in sexual activity of whatever nature, they can change their mind at any time and say no.

To protect children and young people, the law takes account of a person’s age as well as whether they might have agreed to the activity or not.

Sexual abuse can happen to boys and girls and if it’s happening to you it is not your fault and you have done nothing wrong. There are people who can help you.

Sexual abuse can involve being pressured or forced:

  • to look at sexual films or pictures
  • to do something sexual (including on a webcam)
  • to watch someone do something sexual to themselves or someone else
  • to have sexual intercourse

It can also include someone touching you in sexual way or any other way that makes you feel uncomfortable or scared.

Feelings

Sexual abuse can make you feel lots of things like:

  • Frightened
  • Sad
  • Confused
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Running away
  • Harming yourself

Telling someone

There are lots of places where you can find help and the most important thing is that you tell someone you trust how you’re feeling and what’s happening. Telling doesn’t make you a grass.

The person hurting you understands what they’re doing is wrong. They might threaten you not to tell. They do this because they know that if you tell someone is going to help you and things are going to change. You might think that telling someone might make the situation worse but it’s the only way to change what’s happening.

Although you may care a lot about or love the person who is hurting you, they have no right to hurt you and it’s not your fault. You deserve to be safe and happy and that’s why it’s important to tell someone.

Who can help?