Sexual abuse is also emotional, and can include withdrawing or denying sexual activity, withdrawing affection or admiration (especially regarding physical attributes and appearance), and this usually results in the other person feeling degraded unwanted, and undesirable.

There may be sexual put-downs and jokes at the expense of the other. Having an affair and boasting about it is also sexual and emotional abuse. Again, this is usually hidden and difficult to explain to others.


Demanding sex, or rape, causing unnecessary pain, causing pain/injury to body parts, forcing sex on a women who has no protection at the time against unwanted pregnancy. Having sex knowing, (but not declaring) that you have a sexually transmitted disease.

Forcing a woman to have an abortion could also come under this heading, or be considered medical abuse.

Western countries would also consider the practice of genital mutilation, infibulation and re- infibulation to be sexual/medical abuse, but this is outside the scope of the information provided here.

A woman may be forced to perform certain sexual acts against her will, values and beliefs. She may be exposed to unwanted pornography, or unwanted touching. She may be exposed to lewd sexual innuendo, or pressured into having sex without conscious consent. For example if she is under the influence of a drug or alcohol, she is considered “fair game” as she cannot legally give her consent to having sex.

Taking advantage of a mentally disabled person or a child is sexual abuse and is illegal.

The sexual abuse described here does not cover children or pedophile activity, but is more concerned with the types of abuse occurring within a family situation. Incest could be included here, and sometimes features in domestic violence situations, particularly in de-facto relationships where the perpetrator is not the natural father.

Consent to sexual activity is necessary for all healthy relationships, and sexual abuse (forced sex without consent) causes long term psychological harm, including depression, anxiety or post- traumatic stress disorder.

Sexual assault is the most intimate form of abuse.

© Kathleen Crawford 2017