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.
Nonviolent sexual abuse
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:
Look at a naked body or naked genital
Watch, look at, or be a part of sexual
Watch a sexual act, such as masturbation.
Violent sexual assault
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
Acts of physical violence, like hitting, pushing,
shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, choking, strangling, and
Threats of physical violence against you, your family, or
Sexual abuse is any type of sexual
activity that is done against your will. It can be:
Nonviolent sexual abuse, such as unwanted touching
or being forced to watch or look at sexual pictures.
assault, such as rape or forced oral sex.
Call 911 Now
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
If you have just been sexually abused or assaulted, try to
preserve any evidence of the attack.
Do not change your clothes.
bathe, shower, brush your teeth, or clean up in any way.
Do not eat
or drink anything.
Do not smoke.
Write down everything
you can remember about the assault and about the person who assaulted
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:
Child neglect. This happens
when parents (or other caregivers) fail to provide a child with the food,
shelter, schooling, clothing, medical care, or protection the child
Elder neglect. This includes failing
to provide an older person with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and
other basics. Neglect can include failing to pay nursing home or medical costs
for the person if you have a legal responsibility to do so.
Seek Care Today
Based on your answers, you may need help soon.
Call your local YMCA, YWCA, hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Your age. Babies and older
adults tend to get sicker quicker.
Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart
disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care
Medicines you take. Certain
medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements can cause symptoms or make them
Recent health events, such as surgery
or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them
Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug
use, sexual history, and travel.
Seek Care Now
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 .
If you feel threatened or need
If you have been
Call the police immediately, or call a
health professional such as a doctor, nurse, or counselor.
Remember the assault (rape) was not your
Find a safe environment—anywhere away from the
Preserve evidence of the attack—do not change clothes,
eat, drink, smoke, bathe, brush teeth, or clean up in any way. Write down all
the details about the attack and the attacker.
attention. Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the
risk of pregnancy or
sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as
gonorrhea, hepatitis B, or
HIV. To preserve evidence, ask the hospital to do a
special exam (called a forensic medical exam). If you think you may have been
drugged, ask that a urine sample be taken.
Call the National
Sexual Assault Hotline toll-free (1-800-656-HOPE or 1-800-656-4673) for free, confidential
Call the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline
toll-free (1-866-331-9474) or (1-866-331-8453 TTY).
resources that can help in a crisis. Your local rape
crisis center or hotline, police department, mental health clinic,
or hospital can help you.
Be alert to warning signs, such as
threats or drunkenness, so that you can avoid a dangerous
If a child tells you that he or she has been sexually abused
or assaulted, stay calm. Tell the child that you believe him or her and that
you will do your best to keep him or her safe. Report the abuse or assault to
the local police or a child protective services agency. For more information,
see the topic
Child Abuse and Neglect.
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.
When you go to a party, go with a group of
friends. Arrive together, watch out for each other, and leave
Do not leave your beverage unattended or accept a drink
from an open container.
Be aware of your surroundings at all
Do not allow yourself to be alone with someone you do not
know or trust. Do not get a ride from someone you do not
Think about how intimate you want to be in a relationship, and
clearly state your limits.
Reduce the chance of your child being sexually abused or
Teach your children that it is against the
"rules" for adults to act in a sexual way with children. Use
Teach your children that it is okay to say no and that it is
okay to leave the situation if they are uncomfortable.
children that their bodies are their own and that it is okay if they do not
want a hug or other contact that might make them
Speak to your children about using the proper names
for their body parts. Informed children are better able to talk to you about
someone acting in a sexual way with them.
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.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.