Ending Sexual Abuse

Sexual violence accounts for 20.9% of dating violence experienced by teen girls and 13.4% of dating violence experienced by teen boys.  Dating violence can take many forms, and the suffering of sexual violence from a dating partner can have lifelong effects on survivors. Sexual abuse is often very difficult for survivors to reveal, with many survivors bearing this trauma silently and alone.

Sexual abuse is any activity by one person towards another person without that person’s willing, active, and unimpaired consent. Sexual abuse is often conducted through coercion or manipulation, with an abuser using pressure, threats, and/ or attempts to embarrass their partner as tools to gaining sexual contact. Abusers may threaten to expose private photos, threaten or impose violence, give alcohol or drugs to their partner before sex, or purposefully sabotage birth control methods without their partner’s consent. Sexual abuse can be physical or cyber-based.

After experiencing sexual abuse, survivors are much more likely than other teens to develop depression and other mental health challenges. They are also more likely to stay with their abuser due to stigma, fear, or an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection. If a survivor stays with their abuser, it does not mean that the abuse wasn’t severe or that the survivor “was asking for it”.

As advocates and allies, we can direct survivors towards resources for support, medical care, counseling, and assistance in creating and implementing a safety plan.   When responding to survivors of sexual abuse, we must convey that we believe them and the abuse wasn’t their fault.   We must also honor and respect the ongoing process of healing from sexual abuse.  As a community, we can help prevent sexual abuse from occurring by establishing and teaching norms for consent, and promoting open and safe communication in relationships.

For more information, please rewatch our Facebook Live event from Thursday, February 11th entitled “Let's Talk About Dating! Ending Sexual Abuse”. This virtual event features Jenani Srijeyanthan, PADV Coordinator of Dating Violence Prevention; Melissa Arthur, PADV Vice President of Prevention & Outreach; Jeffrey Brown, PADV Vice President of Development & Marketing and Sara Cherry, Mosaic Campus Outreach & Advocacy Specialist.

Resources:

RAINN.org – The world’s largest anti-sexual violence agency

Mosiacgeorgia.org – Gwinnett Sexual Assault and Children’s Advocacy Center