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What Constitutes Sexual Abuse?

For many people who have suffered any form of unwanted sexual activity, and often for their family members, the first question is: What is sexual abuse? Did this action count as sexual abuse?

For anyone who has been victimized in any way sexually, it is important to understand what constitutes sexual abuse. This concept needs to be understood before you can really determine what you can do to respond.

Many Forms Of Sexual Abuse

There are many types of sexual abuse, and different states have different definitions and types listed in their laws. Rape, molestation, sexual assault and child sexual abuse are variations of a theme.

The primary thing to understand, at the most basic level, is that it is illegal for anyone to force you into any kind of sexual activity without your consent.


For any sexual activity to be considered sexual abuse of any kind, there needs to be a lack of consent. When the case involves two adults, consent can be complicated, as it's an issue that has been fought over in the courts for many years.

With sexual contact involving minors, there is no gray area regarding consent. Since minors are not of the age of consent, any sexual contact with a minor would be a serious sex crime.

Some of the most frequent child sex abuse cases involve:

  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Clergy
  • Guardians
  • Other people in positions of power or authority over the child

The fallout from sexual abuse is real and it is serious. It can take many years for victims to recover from such a traumatic event. As part of the healing process, it is important for those victimized by sexual abuse to obtain justice.

Seeking Justice

If you or your child has experienced a sex crime against you, or even something you think might be sexual abuse of some kind, it is important to talk with an experienced attorney. In addition to the criminal aspects of a sex abuse case - where the perpetrator would be likely to face jail time and serious fines if convicted - there is also the possibility of a civil claim.

In a civil claim, a victim of sex abuse can obtain a measure of justice and compensation for the injustices they have experienced.

Although sexual abuse is one of the worst things someone could suffer, there is hope.

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