Understanding Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault

Sexual Abuse is sexual exploitation of a child by a teen or adult. This can involve touching, fondling, kissing, exposure of genitals, genital contact, or intercourse.

Sexual Assault is any act of unwanted sexual contact imposed by one person on another, ranging from touching or fondling, to oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse.

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault are crimes of violence and an issue of power and control. It takes courage to speak about these crimes which are often surrounded by silence.

What If It Happens To You?

  • Take whatever steps you need to make yourself feel safe.
  • You can get medical attention in order to check for injuries, sexually transmitted diseases and to prevent pregnancy. It is recommended that you not bathe until you have received medical attention.
  • Making a report to the police is YOUR choice even if you have gone to the hospital for a medical exam.
  • You are not to blame. You were not responsible for the sexual assault/abuse.

What if it happened a long time ago?

As a survivor, you may feel many different emotions, but it is important to know that once you are able to explore and express these emotions, the feelings will lessen over time.

Non-judgmental crisis counselling both in person and on the phone is available to you through WIC services.

What you can do if you know someone who has been sexually assaulted or abused…

  • Believe her
  • Listen
  • Respect whatever choices she makes. It is important to allow her to have control over her own life and the decisions she makes.

Supporting someone who has been sexually assaulted or abused, whether long ago or recently, can be very difficult.   As a partner, family member, or friend you too can call for support.