Disclaimer: This blog post might be triggering. I’d advise you to read it with a trusted adult if you resonate with this topic in any way. Also, if you believe any of the points apply to you, please visit a therapist for professional help.
Reminder: Do not let any labels prevent you from seeking treatment. Remember that these labels, whether they plagued you in the past or follow you in the present, do not represent who you are. You are more than that. So, if you ever need help, please reach out to a medical health professional for assistance.
*FAQs have been listed at the tail end of the blog post. Please do well to read them and draw some insight from it.*
Unfortunately sexual abuse isn’t a topic many people can talk about without grimacing from the pain of their own experience.
Four out of ten people have had an experience of sexual assault; sexual manipulation, predatory people, ongoing abuse, buried trauma, broken boundaries, touching without consent, the list goes on.
It turns out sexual abuse is something that a lot of us end up dealing with.
It’s a topic that nobody wants to talk about but while nobody’s talking about it, we’re living with it.
It can come from a relative, a boss, a teacher, a church pastor, a close friend and even someone on the internet. Yes, someone on the internet. It’s easy to take sexual assault lightly over text because everything seems so much more innocent in a text. However just as it’s possible to build businesses online it’s just as easy to build deep connections online and of course not everyone out there has good intentions. Some begin to demand revealing pictures and some might send unsolicited revealing pictures. Both sides of the coin constitute sexual abuse.
Due to some past traumas and feelings of inferiority people fall victim to these predators. This is because the victims feel good knowing somebody wants to see them especially when they feel insecure about themselves.
Unfortunately by giving in and sending such pictures the plot thickens and they subscribe to a series of threats and blackmail.
The tendency to become suicidal in such a situation is high because living everyday of your life in mental and physical captivity is death in itself.
Please be careful. Online relationships can be dangerous. That sense of privacy feels safe and exciting but that privacy can also isolate you and lead to manipulation. No matter what you’ve agreed to in the past, you can change your mind and that decision should always be respected.
It’s important that we’re able to spot the signs of sexual abuse when they begin (online or offline) because it can come disguised as everything we’ve ever wanted or rather I should say as someone we’ve always wanted. This could be someone who listens to you and makes you feel special. Someone who is always there when you feel lonely. Someone who makes you feel appreciated when you feel worthless. Also remember that regardless of how far things must’ve gone; gifts, affection, a confidant, etc you don’t owe anyone ‘pleasure’.
Recognising how far things have gone is in itself a challenge for most victims. The threshold is immediately when you begin to feel uncomfortable. On that note pay attention to how others make you feel. When you realise something’s wrong that’s when you have to say no and do whatever you can to be safe. Don’t get caught up thinking about what might happen if you tell someone. You have to do what’s best for you and sometimes that means getting help from an adult you trust. Don’t convince yourself that you’re in anyway to blame for what happened. There are people out there who are ready to defend you to the last breathe. Regardless of the circumstance or how long it’s been happening it’s never too late to stop it.
Perhaps you feel guilty for turning someone down especially when there’s a solid history between you both. You probably wouldn’t want to mess up the friendship or make things weird for everybody.
This category of predators are the best gaslighters and their actions or inactions could at some point make you feel guilty for rejecting them even though you’re not comfortable with their advances.
For most people it could be the worst of feelings because that friendship means so much to them. You may even start to wonder if you are in the wrong about all of it because you don’t want to lose the friendship.
You should know that consent is consent and years of friendship does not warrant anyone to demand more than you’re wiling to give. A fervent friendship doesn’t give anyone permission to change the status of the relationship. The moment you have to protect yourself from getting groped when you’re hanging out with a friend is the moment you need to terminate that friendship.
No one is entitled to touch you and you’re not expected to pretend like you’re comfortable with it. You never owe people sex or affection no matter what your relationship is and no one has the right to pressure you either.
I know how hard it is to end a friendship but a close friend should respect you and make you feel safe. If they don’t, you can decide whether they deserve your friendship or not.
Sexual abuse can happen during the most casual hangouts.
It happens to both girls and boys albeit statistics show that girls are more susceptible to sexual abuse hence the need to address it before it causes more pain to you or your loved ones.
The truth is you don’t have to look far to find someone that’s dealt with abuse or someone that’s got something on their mind that hurts to talk about. On the daily, we interact with people that have been taken advantage of for wanting to fit in or have a relationship with someone they admire.
It’s also worth mentioning that some people find themselves feeling guilty or responsible for someone else’s abusive behaviour. Others feel isolated and trapped by the situation. Everyone has their own story. Even though sexual abuse is hard to talk about, sharing experiences helps us recognise sexual abuse and dangerous situations in our own lives.
Bottom line, if someone’s behaviour makes you uncomfortable, you can tell them to stop and if they don’t stop, they’re in the wrong and you should get away.
It’s wrong to have to live in constant fear of being taken advantage of but it’s worse to have to live every single day of your life trying to recover from the ordeal of being taken advantage of.
Many a time when people talk about sexual abuse they only address the victims and what they can do to protect themselves. No one really talks about the vile acts of the perpetrators. Sexual abuse is a traumatising experience and it’s unfortunate for one to have to recover from it.
On that note, if you’re the person pressuring someone to do something they’re not comfortable with after they’ve said ‘no’, you’re acting like a predator. Being in a relationship means respecting the other person’s choices. Demanding nudes, sharing them or threatening to share them, that’s repugnant. Not to mention illegal; cyberflashing. Anyone who does that loses all respect.
We need to listen to ourselves and not give into social pressure or lies.
We need to watch out for friends when they’re in unsafe situations.
We need to recognise how abusive people can take advantage of us.
Abuse can feel very lonely and personal but I think that by talking about it, we can get rid of the stigma.
Sexual abuse can catch you totally off guard.
If you find yourself in a similar situation and you’re struggling with what to do, talk to someone you trust. Talking about it helps a lot and hopefully it can help you too.
FAQs REGARDING SEXUAL ABUSE
Q. Can I be abused by someone of the same sex?
Yes. Same sex abuse has as a matter of fact become common. It can happen to anyone of any gender and guys aren’t exclusive. In fact one in six guys are sexually abused before they turn 18.
Q. Does my body’s response to being touched inappropriately by someone of the same sex affect my sexual orientation?
Sexual abuse has nothing to do with sexual orientation and that is even if your body responded in any way.
Q. What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault or abuse is when someone does something to another person without getting their permission first. It includes:
1. touching their genitals, breast or butt
2. inserting something into any of their body parts
3. showing them something sexual when they haven’t given their explicit consent.
Q. What is explicit consent?
Explicit consent is a clear voluntary agreement to do something, in this case something sexual. A shrug or silence doesn’t count as consent.
Remember that consent cannot be given if you’re feeling threatened, drunk or high.
If you consent to one thing it doesn’t mean you consent to everything and consent can be taken back at anytime when you change your mind.
NB: It is for this reason you find that sadomasochism is illegal unless of course it is backed by a mutually signed contract.
Q. Can a victim be faulted for being abused?
No. Sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault no matter who they were with, how they were dressed or what they were doing.
Also, they have nothing to feel guilty about. Period.
Q. What should I do if I’m raped?
Your health matters first so get to a hospital immediately. Tell them what happened and they can help you take the requisite steps to prevent illness or pregnancy. From there they can assist you to get the additional support you need.
Q. Is it advisable to inform someone?
Yes. Tell someone you trust. It could be your parent or school counsellor.
Q. Must consent be given for all physical activity?
Yes. All intricate activities require consent as well as the littlest things; hugging and touching.
Q. What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is a type of bullying intended to hurt or intimidate someone. It can include:
1. making sexual jokes, comments or gestures to or about someone
2. spreading sexual rumours in person, by text or online
3. writing sexual messages about people on bathroom stalls or in other public places
4. showing someone inappropriate sexual pictures or videos
5. touching, grabbing or pinching someone in a deliberate sexual way
6. asking someone to send you naked pictures of himself or herself
7. pulling at someone’s clothing
8. brushing up against someone in a purposefully sexual way
If you’re being harassed don’t blame yourself. Let the perpetrator know that this behaviour is not okay with you. If this doesn’t work don’t just ignore the behaviour. Ignoring it won’t make it stop. Instead, tell a trusted adult about it. Telling someone sooner leads to faster results.
This article was suggested by some viewers. I hope this helps you and everyone else who reads this. I appreciate you if you made it this far. If you’d want me to write on a topic of interest please reach out to me using the contact us page. Also I’d love to know your thoughts on this article and where you might agree or disagree. All entries are exclusively between myself and you, thank you and be safe!❤️