Definition: Sexual contact by force, trickery, or bribery where there is an imbalance in age, size, power or knowledge.
Contact can be made in the following ways:
- Obscene phone calls
- Oral or anal sex
- Any other sexual conduct that is harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare
The assault may consist of a single incident or many acts over a long period of time. The abuse is more often perpetrated by someone known to the child and abuse may escalate over time, particularly if the abuser is a family member.
Note: The absence of force or coercion does not diminish the abusive nature of the conduct, but sadly, it may cause the child to feel responsible for what has occurred.
Many adults tend to overlook, minimize, explain away or disbelieve allegations of abuse. This is particularly true if the perpetrator is a family member.
- Inappropriate sexual knowledge
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
- PTSD or Rape Trauma Syndrome symptoms
- Regressive behaviors
- Change in behavior, acting out
- Change in school performance
- Running away
Physical & Emotional Reactions
- Sleeping and eating disorders
- Psychosomatic symptoms (stomach aches, headaches)
- School problems (absences, drops in grades)
- Poor hygiene/excessive bathing
- Regressive behaviors (thumb sucking, bedwetting)
This section was adapted from materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.