The term 'sexual abuse' is quite common in cases involving various sex crimes. However, not so many people, especially victims of sexual abuse, know the kinds of crimes that fall under this category.
Our Orange County sexual assault attorney explains that this is partly because other crimes, such as sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexual assault, have something to do with sexual abuse. But despite being used interchangeably, these terms have different meanings.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is a term used to describe sex crimes against individuals under 18. In California, individuals under the age of 18 cannot consent to sexual activities. According to California law, individuals under the age of 18 are considered minors. For this reason, the law assumes they are unable to make certain decisions, including consenting to sexual activities.
What Activities Constitute Sexual Abuse?
Any sexual contact between a minor and the abuser - usually an adult or an older child - may qualify as sexual abuse. Common examples of such sexual contact include touching, kissing, fondling, rape, sodomy, and child molestation.
Sexual abuse can also occur without physical contact. For instance, forcing a minor to touch themselves sexually or forcing them to watch the abuser masturbate is a form of sexual abuse. The same applies if the abuser takes sexually explicit videos or images of children.
Common Signs of Sexual Abuse
Other than the act itself, one of the saddest things about sexual abuse is that most victims don't seek help or speak up about it. Whether you're a parent, guardian, caregiver, or any responsible adult, the fight against sexual abuse begins with you. Here are some commons signs of sexual abuse to watch out for if you're not sure where to start:
As mentioned before, most sexual abuse victims are afraid to speak up about their experiences with the abuser. Some may fear the consequences of speaking up, especially after being threatened by the abuser. If your child appears unusually quiet, it could be a sign of ongoing sexual abuse.
If a minor develops an unusual fear of certain individuals or places without any clear explanation, this could be a case of sexual abuse. Such individuals may also experience sudden mood changes and aggressiveness towards parents, friends, siblings, or pets.
Anxiety and Depression
Most victims of sexual abuse suffer from anxiety and depression. Others experience difficulty falling asleep, including night terrors and nightmares. If the sexual incident involved physical contact, here are some common signs to watch out for:
Pain and While Urinating
If a minor complains of constant and persistent pain during urination or bowel movement, this could signify sexual abuse. Certain sexually transmitted infections cause this kind of pain.
Unusual Wetting and Soiling Accidents
Some sexual abuse victims may experience wetting and soiling, but this has nothing to do with toilet training. If a minor unexpectedly and constantly wets or soils their pants, especially if they have never done that before, it could signify sexual abuse.
Constant Stomach Pain
Consult a doctor if a minor complains of constant stomach pain. This could be a sign that they've been sexually abused. Other common signs of sexual abuse include abnormal penile or vaginal discharge, bruises around the genitals, and unexplained health problems such as constant headaches.
Places Where Sexual Abuse is Most Common
One of the saddest things about sexual abuse is that it could happen in places you least expect. Sometimes, that one place you think a minor, teenager or even an adult should feel safe could be the source of their pain and suffering. Here are some unexpected places where sexual abuse is most common:
Sexual Abuse/Assault at Churches
Churches and other religious institutions provide a platform for believers to express their faith. But sometimes, some of these churches may harbor abusers who prey on innocent children and even adults to commit various sexual offenses. Here's everything you need to know about sexual assault at churches and what to do if you or your loved one is a survivor.
Sexual Abuse at Schools and Daycare
Schools and daycare facilities are meant to provide children with a fun, educational, and interactive environment. But just one sexual abuse incident is all it takes to change the life of a minor forever. Unfortunately, some abusers work in these institutions, targeting innocent kids. Read more on sexual abuse at schools and daycare and what to do if you or your loved one is a survivor.
Sexual Abuse at Work
Statistics show that every 68 seconds, one person in America is sexually assaulted. The workplace is usually one of the most common places sexual abuse occur. If you or your loved one has been sexually assaulted at work, here's how we might be able to help.
Sexual Abuse/Assault By Doctors
Patients trust doctors with their health. But some rogue doctors take advantage of the trust to abuse their patients sexually. If that's what you or your loved one has gone through, our physician sexual assault attorneys can help.
How a California Sexual Abuse Lawyer From Case Barnett Law Can Help
Failure to speak about sexual assault is never the solution. On the contrary, it enables the abuser to keep prying on other innocent victims, hoping they'll stay silent just like the previous ones. So if you or your loved one is a victim of sexual assault, a sexual abuse attorney from Case Barnett Law may be able to hold the abuser responsible for their actions.
You can find out whether you have a valid case at no cost to you. That’s because we offer free consultations. To request a free consultation with our team, reach out by calling 949-409-0055 or filling out the online contact form below. We have been proudly servicing clients throughout Costa Mesa, California, and the surrounding areas.