What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse happens anytime a child is asked, tricked, or forced by someone who is bigger, stronger, or older, or by someone who has some power over him/her. The abuser will want the child to do “secret” non-touching or “secret” touching activities that involve the child’s private parts, the abuser’s private parts, or the private parts of someone else.

The child often feels the urge to tell, but knows it’s a secret — not a fun secret that makes him/her happy and excited to keep. It’s a scary secret, one the child is afraid to tell, one that gives the child that funny feeling, like butterflies, in his or her stomach.

Non-Touching Sexual Abuse

Non-touching behavior is when someone shows a child movies, pictures or Internet sites with pornography. It also happens if someone exposes his/her private body parts to a child.

Non-touching behaviors also occur if someone asks a child to pose for a picture without clothes or in a sexual way that makes a child feel uncomfortable, or if someone takes a child’s picture while they’re doing something sexual. The abuser might encourage the child to watch or listen to people who are engaging in sexual acts. Or an abuser might want to watch the child undress or bathe. 

Sexual harassment is also a form of sexual abuse. Someone might tease a child or cause the child to have uncomfortable feelings about his/her body or certain clothes, or the abuser might call a child bad names like ho, slut, bitch, or fag. The child might be scared to tell on the bully, or the child might want the abuser to think he or she can “take it.”

Touching Sexual Abuse

Sexually abusive touching behaviors happen when someone touches the private parts of a child’s body, over or under his/her clothes or makes the child touch their body. It also happens if an abuser put any part of his/her body on or in any part of a child’s body. The abuser might use their fingers, tongue or their private parts. Another form of touching sexual abuse occurs if someone puts any foreign object into a child’s body, like soap or the handle of a hairbrush, or crayons.

And any time someone is forced to have sexual intercourse, whether the person is an acquaintenance or not, even if it’s was a consentual date, that’s rape. Rape also happens if a person’s ability to say “NO” has been taken away because he or she is unconscious or drugged. If a Date Rape Drug is slipped into someone’s drink, he/she won’t know what’s happening, and won’t be able to protect him/herself or say “NO” to unwanted sexual advances.

Information sources