Sexual abuse or assault (rape) can happen to anyone. If this has happened to you, you are not to
blame. Sexual abuse is any type of sexual activity that is done against your
will. It can be nonviolent sexual abuse, such as nontouching sexual exposure
(like being forced to look at sexual pictures) or unwanted or forced sexual
touching. Or it can mean a violent sexual assault, such as rape or attempted rape.
The attacker may be a stranger, someone you do not know well, a close friend,
or a family member (incest). Many victims of abuse or assault know their
Teens and young adults may be at risk for becoming victims of sexual assault or violent behavior in situations where certain drugs are used.
It is often hard for people to talk about sexual abuse
or assault. The abused person often feels shame or guilt and may be too afraid
of the abuser to say anything. But it is important to seek help and then
continue to get help for as long as you need it. Talk to the police or to a
health professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or counselor. Or call a local
rape crisis center. Any of these people can help you get medical treatment,
deal with your feelings, and take steps to stop the abuser or rapist.
Sexual abuse can be something
spoken or seen, or it can be anything that forces a person to join in unwanted
sexual contact. This type of abuse may occur over and over. Examples of
nonviolent sexual abuse include forcing a person to:
Violent sexual assault is any forced
sexual contact where something is put into (penetrates) the
vagina, anus, or mouth. Violence or fear is used to
force the person to have sex. Examples of violent sexual assault
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor or get other help.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
If you have just been sexually abused or assaulted, try to
preserve any evidence of the attack.
Sexual abuse is any type of sexual
activity that is done against your will. It can be:
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Neglect is a form of abuse. It happens
when caregivers do not protect the health and well-being of the person they are
supposed to take care of.
Two common types of neglect are:
Based on your answers, you may need help right away.
Call your local hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
You may also call 911 .
Based on your answers, you need
or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, you may need help soon.
Call your local YMCA, YWCA, hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
Physical abuse may include:
If you feel threatened or need
If you have been a victim of abuse and continue to have
problems related to the abuse, you may have
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For more
information, see the topic
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you are concerned that sexual abuse or
assault has occurred, call your doctor to decide if and when
you should see a doctor or get other help.
Reduce your chance for sexual abuse or
Reduce the chance of your child being sexually abused or
Organizations such as Planned Parenthood can help you learn
more about reducing your chances of being a victim. Contact Planned Parenthood
toll-free at 1-800-230-PLAN (1-800-230-7526) or online at www.plannedparenthood.org.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
If you have made an
appointment with your health professional, you may be able to get the most from
your visit by being prepared to answer the following questions:
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)
provides information on research and policy related to sexual violence
intervention and prevention. The NSVRC is a partner with state, territory, and
tribal anti-sexual assault coalitions and allied organizations. The Center does
not provide direct services to sexual assault victims but supports those who
do, such as coalitions; rape crisis centers; national, state, and local
agencies; and allied programs.
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) is
the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN created and
operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which provides victims of sexual
assault with free, confidential services. RAINN also provides important
information about sexual assault prevention, recovery, and prosecution.
Stop It Now! helps adults accept the responsibility to recognize,
acknowledge, and confront the behaviors that lead to the sexual abuse of
children. The organization offers adults tools they can use to prevent sexual
abuse—before there’s a victim to heal or an offender to punish. In
collaboration with a network of community-based Stop It Now! programs, the
organization reaches out to adults who are concerned about their own or others’
sexualized behavior toward children.
December 23, 2011
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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