What is child sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is any form of child maltreatment based on an asymmetric and power relationship where the person who exercises the abuse seeks to obtain some type of sexual gratification, that is, any sexual conduct that is harmful to the mental, emotional or physical well-being of a girl or boy.
This asymmetric power relationship can come from a difference in age, physical development, cognitive development, as well as other types of factors.
A person has power over another when he forces him to do something that he does not want, regardless of the means used to do so: threats, physical force, blackmail, manipulation, among others. This situation of superiority makes it difficult to seek help and/or to talk about the issue.
Key elements that characterize child sexual abuse
- The power and dominance exercised by the adult over the child for the purpose of sexual gratification.
- The use of threats, deceit, coercion, bribery and physical force.
- The vulnerability and dependence of the child against the aggressor.
- Loss of respect and betrayal of trust.
- The breaking of emotional and physical barriers.
- Secrecy and other strategies that make it difficult to talk about the issue or seek help.
- Difficulty of the child to understand what is happening.
- There is no consensus. The child has no choice, cannot and does not know how to stop or avoid the abuse.
- Usually the incidence of abuse does not occur in a single episode; progresses through time.
What behaviors are considered child sexual abuse?
Psychological consequences of child sexual abuse
The effects of sexual abuse on children are highly variable depending on various factors such as:
- type of aggression
- Aggressor's age
- Type of relationship between victim and aggressor
- Duration of aggression
- Aggression frequency
- Child's personality
- environment reaction