The sexually abused child: a critical analysis exploring sexual abuse and its effects.
This essay will aim to explore and evaluate sexual abuse and its possible detrimental impacts on a child. Although there is no evidence by any one persons or any data to describe what may account for abuse and what sexual abuse is, there are four main types of child abuse; emotional abuse, sexual abuse , physical abuse and neglect. (NSPCC 2010). The type of abuse that will be closely analysed in this essay is sexual abuse.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term sexual abuse is defined as “unwanted continuous sexual activity forced upon a person by another through coercion or threats.” A similar explanation is presented by Kempe. “Sexual abuse is defined as the involvement of dependant, developmentally immature children and adolescents in sexual activities they do not truly comprehend, to which they are unable to give informed consent, or that violate the social taboos of family roles.” While these explanations form a foundation of what sexual abuse is with terms such as “dependant” and “informed consent” and “developmentally immature” it suggests that the true nature of sexual abuse however it not yet fully determined. This may be due to the content of sexual abuse coming in many forms. (Kempe, 1978:90)
With abuse coming in many forms, sexual abuse also has different forms as suggested by Hansel et al (1998). Child sexual abuse may array from ‘contact’ and ‘non-contact’ offenses. Non-contact offenses include; exhibitionism, a term used to describe genital exposure, voyeurism, this is a form of gaining sexual satisfaction by observing victims in a sexual way i.e. a child undressing, verbal sexual abuse this is where the child is spoken to in a sexual manner or are terrorised using sexual threats and lastly exposing the victim to pornographic material which may include children. Contact offenses include; genital manipulation, any form of penetration, child prostitution/pornography and intercourse. (Doyle, 1994: 21)
It is not unfamiliar for all of the forms of abuse to take place in different situations. Children may be subjected to such behaviour in a diverse range of settings. Most commonly, sexual abuse is likely to happen in a victim’s home. Usually the abuser is someone the victim recognises i.e. the victim’s parents or siblings. Research conducted by a psychological association reveals that 60% of the victims know their abuser personally but are not family members or relatives. In some distinct cases, the sex abuser may be a neighbour or a relative or rarely at times a baby sitter. Equally it is not uncommon for the victim to be either male or female and of all ethnicities, culture, religion and age. A case brought forward by a victim in 2009 to the NSPCC reveals that Children young as 5 are abused, taking this case into context is a young boy named Colin who was sexually abused by his mother until he was 13. He was sexually molested in his bed and...