Sexual abuse or assault (rape) can happen to anyone. If this has happened to you, you are not to blame. Sexual abuse is any type of sexual activity that is done against your will. It can be nonviolent sexual abuse, such as nontouching sexual exposure (like being forced to look at sexual pictures) or unwanted or forced sexual touching. Or it can mean a violent sexual assault, such as rape or attempted rape. The attacker may be a stranger, someone you do not know well, a close friend, or a family member (incest). Many victims of abuse or assault know their attacker.
Teens and young adults may be at risk for becoming victims of sexual assault or violent behavior in situations where certain drugs are used.
It is often hard for people to talk about sexual abuse or assault. The abused person often feels shame or guilt and may be too afraid of the abuser to say anything. But it is important to seek help and then continue to get help for as long as you need it. Talk to the police or to a health professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or counselor. Or call a local rape crisis center. Any of these people can help you get medical treatment, deal with your feelings, and take steps to stop the abuser or rapist.
Sexual abuse can be something spoken or seen, or it can be anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact. This type of abuse may occur over and over. Examples of nonviolent sexual abuse include forcing a person to:
Violent sexual assault is any forced sexual contact where something is put into (penetrates) the vagina, anus, or mouth. Violence or fear is used to force the person to have sex. Examples of violent sexual assault include:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor or get other help.
If you feel threatened or need immediate help:
If you have been a victim of abuse and continue to have problems related to the abuse, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For more information, see the topic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you are concerned that sexual abuse or assault has occurred, call your doctor to decide if and when you should see a doctor or get other help.
Reduce your chance for sexual abuse or assault:
Reduce the chance of your child being sexually abused or assaulted:
Organizations such as Planned Parenthood can help you learn more about reducing your chances of being a victim. Contact Planned Parenthood toll-free at 1-800-230-PLAN (1-800-230-7526) or online at www.plannedparenthood.org.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
If you have made an appointment with your health professional, you may be able to get the most from your visit by being prepared to answer the following questions:
|National Sexual Violence Resource Center|
|123 North Enola Drive|
|Enola, PA 17025|
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) provides information on research and policy related to sexual violence intervention and prevention. The NSVRC is a partner with state, territory, and tribal anti-sexual assault coalitions and allied organizations. The Center does not provide direct services to sexual assault victims but supports those who do, such as coalitions; rape crisis centers; national, state, and local agencies; and allied programs.
|Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)|
|2000 L Street NW|
|Washington, DC 20036|
|TDD:||1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673) National Sexual Assault Hotline|
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which provides victims of sexual assault with free, confidential services. RAINN also provides important information about sexual assault prevention, recovery, and prosecution.
|Stop It Now!|
|351 Pleasant Street|
|Northampton, MA 01060|
Stop It Now! helps adults accept the responsibility to recognize, acknowledge, and confront the behaviors that lead to the sexual abuse of children. The organization offers adults tools they can use to prevent sexual abuse—before there’s a victim to heal or an offender to punish. In collaboration with a network of community-based Stop It Now! programs, the organization reaches out to adults who are concerned about their own or others’ sexualized behavior toward children.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine|
|Last Revised||December 23, 2011|
Last Revised: December 23, 2011
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