Incest and Child Sexual Abuse: Definitions, Perpetrators, Victims, and Effects

Written by Kali Munro, M.Ed., Psychotherapist

Definition of Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is any form of sexual activity with a child by an adult, or by another child where there is no consent or consent is not possible; or by another child who has power overrepparttar child. By this definition, it is possible for a child to be sexually abused by another child who is younger than they are.

Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, showing a child pornographic materials, placingrepparttar 132616 child's hand on another person's genitals, touching a child's genitals, and/or penetration of any orifice of a child's body (mouth, vagina, anus) with a penis, finger, or an object of any sort. Penetration does not have to occur for it to be sexual abuse.

Who arerepparttar 132617 Perpetrators?

Perpetrators are most often someonerepparttar 132618 child knows and trusts. As far as we know, perpetrators, are most often male relatives, including fathers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles and cousins; friends ofrepparttar 132619 family; or neighbours. Perpetrators can also be female, including mothers, sisters, aunts, babysitters, and grandmothers.

Usuallyrepparttar 132620 perpetrator has easy access torepparttar 132621 child because s/he has sole responsibility forrepparttar 132622 child, or takes care of or visitsrepparttar 132623 child, and is trusted byrepparttar 132624 child's parents.

Where Does Sexual Abuse Occur?

Sexual abuse or incest can occur anywhere, at any time, including in front of other people who do not, or choose to not see. I have heard many stories of children being abused while other people were inrepparttar 132625 next room, in a car with them, or sitting at a dinner table.

Who is Sexually Abused?

All children are vulnerable to sexual abuse. Sexual abuse and incest occur in every race, class, religion, culture, and country.

Once a child has been sexually abused, and has not received appropriate help, support, and understanding for what has happened, s/he can be particularly vulnerable to being sexually abused again by another perpetrator. This is notrepparttar 132626 fault ofrepparttar 132627 child. This is due torepparttar 132628 fact that she has learned that sexual abuse is something that people will and can do to her/his body.

Children whose emotional needs are not met--who are emotionally deprived, or otherwise abused--can also be more vulnerable because they need attention and some perpetrators exploit that need. Again, this is notrepparttar 132629 child's fault. The child did not createrepparttar 132630 fact that her/his needs were not met, norrepparttar 132631 fact that someone exploited that need.

Homophobia puts lesbian and gay youth at risk of sexual abuse. Many gay youth are forced to go to adult clubs, bars and other settings in order to explore their sexuality and to meet other prople who are gay. By being in an adult setting they are more likely to be exploited (just as heterosexual girls would be at risk in an adult heterosexual setting). Also, it is unlikely that gay youth will tell anyone if they are abused because they would have to reveal that they were in a gay setting. With little or no access to information about gay sexuality, many youth misinterpret abuse experiences as representing what it means to be gay. This puts them at further risk.

Different Effects and Coping Strategies of Child Sexual Abuse

The effects of child sexual abuse are wide ranging, and vary from survivor to survivor depending on a number of different factors such asrepparttar 132632 age ofrepparttar 132633 victim,repparttar 132634 duration ofrepparttar 132635 abuse,repparttar 132636 number of perpetrators,repparttar 132637 nature ofrepparttar 132638 relationship withrepparttar 132639 perpetrator, andrepparttar 132640 severity ofrepparttar 132641 assault.

I always hesitant to write that last one--the severity ofrepparttar 132642 assault--because all abuse is traumatic and harmful to victims. I have known women quite traumatized by their breasts being repeatedly grabbed when they were a child. While this may not be as severe as some other forms of abuse, it can have strong and long-lasting effects. It's important to remember that while being assaulted in a more violent manner does have its own specific effects, it in no way minimizesrepparttar 132643 reality and experience of others who have not experienced that kind of violence.

Emotional Effects

Includes feelings of: confusion, powerlessness, helplessness, pain, betrayal, sadness, grief, loss, feeling dirty, shame, vulnerable, unsafe, scared, terrified, horrified, depressed, angry, numb from feelings and body, suspicious, untrusting, tortured, sensitive, emotional, hurt, panic, anxiety, and feeling miserable.

Beliefs About Self

Beliefs about one’s self include: "I am bad, no one loves me, no one could love me, I am unlovable, I am dirty, it's my fault, I'm stupid, I should have done something, I should have told someone, I hate myself, I must be bad, I must have wanted it, I must have done something, I'm being punished, I deserve to die, I don't want to be me, why do these things happen to me, I must have deserved it"

Minimizing Beliefs

Survivors are confronted with overwhelming pain. In order to cope with extreme and intense emotions,repparttar 132644 details of what happened, and who hurt them, they may try to convince themselves "it wasn't so bad, it didn't really hurt them, others have been hurt much more" etc. This is a form of self-protection. It did hurt, it still hurts but it may be too hard or scary right now to face it all.

As a form of self-protection, minimizing may help slowrepparttar 132645 process down which may be whatrepparttar 132646 survivor needs from time to time. As a constant way of coping however, minimization leads to self-blame and self-hatred which is not helpful and hurts a great deal.


Suvivors need to protect themselves fromrepparttar 132647 truth ofrepparttar 132648 situation, after all someone they trusted, and perhaps loved, hurt them very badly. Rationalization is when a survivor explainsrepparttar 132649 abusive behavior away--"he didn't know what he was doing, he was abused himself as a child, he thought he was showing me love, she was really messed up, she didn't mean to hurt me." The survivor is trying to protect her/himself fromrepparttar 132650 horrible truth ofrepparttar 132651 situation.


What is to Blame?

Written by Adam Braden

On April 20th, 1999, two students entered their high school armed with guns, bombs, and one objective: to kill. They began their rampage inrepparttar hallways killing one teacher and two students and continued torepparttar 132614 library where they ended their massacre withrepparttar 132615 murders of ten more students and their own collective suicides. To this day,repparttar 132616 real motive behindrepparttar 132617 crimes has yet to be determined, however, initial speculations pointed to music in particular. It wasn't until much later thatrepparttar 132618 students' backgrounds and living environments were investigated, which is a very concerning fact. So much emphasis was placed on one subject that it overshadowedrepparttar 132619 logical sources ofrepparttar 132620 crime.

Music alone is not to blame forrepparttar 132621 shootings and violence in America's schools. Other factors such as politics, living environment, andrepparttar 132622 criminal's background play a much larger role inrepparttar 132623 lives ofrepparttar 132624 students than music and to putrepparttar 132625 spotlight directly on it is illogical.

Violence in schools is a topic that is widely debated in Congress and other political arenas. Congressman often speack ofrepparttar 132626 "cruel" and "harsh" lyrics of today's music and how it plays out inrepparttar 132627 lives ofrepparttar 132628 listeners. They cite such acts as Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Eminem, and other artists asrepparttar 132629 cause for many violent acts, whether it's murder, suicide, rape, kidnapping, or burglary. Whatrepparttar 132630 politicians don't understand is that by concentrating on music so much, they are giving teenagers an excuse to commit these heinous crimes. The way politicians treatrepparttar 132631 issue is that all a child or a teenager has to do is listen torepparttar 132632 lyrics of an explicit song and violence will become inevitable. Most of these lyrics are representative ofrepparttar 132633 artist's way of life. What they don't understand is that vulgar music is notrepparttar 132634 problem. It is a symptom of a problem much larger. It's notrepparttar 132635 catalyst ofrepparttar 132636 crimes committed; it'srepparttar 132637 outlet for artists who have been involved in or witnessed those types of crimes. The purpose ofrepparttar 132638 music is not to promoterepparttar 132639 violence but to informrepparttar 132640 public of these atrocities. Being a musician, I know thatrepparttar 132641 music has emotional ties in an artist's life, which they choose to express to a new community of listeners. However,repparttar 132642 true meaning behindrepparttar 132643 song is lost in politics. The music doesn't push a person to commit a crime. Whatrepparttar 132644 politicians fail to notice isrepparttar 132645 conditions under whichrepparttar 132646 suspect is living andrepparttar 132647 other factors that contribute torepparttar 132648 violent behavior. A teenager's living environment is a major contributor to violence among juveniles. Every school has at least one person that is considered a "bully"; more often, though, it is more than just one person. Different "cliques" conduct social wars in a sense, which lead to face-value judgements and hateful verbal exchanges. For instance, a kid wears a Marilyn Manson shirt to school, and one of his peers in an opposing social group begins to mock him for it. The kid comes backrepparttar 132649 next day and shoots him, did music causerepparttar 132650 violence or didrepparttar 132651 mocking? Neither can justifyrepparttar 132652 teen's actions, but was music reallyrepparttar 132653 greatest contributing factor inrepparttar 132654 shooting? Additionally, inrepparttar 132655 Columbine shooting,repparttar 132656 two students were described as being social outcasts that were ridiculed and joked about by their fellow students more so because ofrepparttar 132657 lifestyle they lived thanrepparttar 132658 type of music they listened to. However,repparttar 132659 mockery of their peers was not part ofrepparttar 132660 blame, it wasrepparttar 132661 music that stolerepparttar 132662 limelight. Because they listened to Rammstein and Manson,repparttar 132663 public stressed that their lyrics causedrepparttar 132664 outrage, notrepparttar 132665 scorn of their classmates. Therefore, although music was involved in an indirect way, it was notrepparttar 132666 main motive forrepparttar 132667 crime.

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