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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 attacker.
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 include:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor or get other help.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Sexual abuse is any type of sexual activity that is done against your will. It can be:
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:
If you have just been sexually abused or assaulted, try to preserve any evidence of the attack.
Physical abuse may include:
Based on your answers, you may need help soon.
Call your local YMCA, YWCA, hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
You may also call 911 .
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call911or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, you may need help right away.
Call your local hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
If you feel threatened or need immediate help:
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.
Sexual abuse and assault is never the victim's fault. But there are some things you can do that may help reduce your risk.
Reduce the chance of your child being sexually abused or assaulted:
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:
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofMarch 20, 2017
Current as of: March 20, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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