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A Child is defined as anyone under the age of 18.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activity, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. This may include activities such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways or grooming a child in preparation for abuse.

Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse that includes sexual activity with a minor. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, period. When a perpetrator engages with a child this way, they are committing a crime that can have lasting effects on the victim for years. Child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child. Some forms of child sexual abuse include (but are not limited to):

  • Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor

  • Fondling

  • Intercourse

  • Masturbation in the presence of a minor or forcing the minor to masturbate

  • Obscene conversations, phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction

  • Producing, owning, or sharing pornographic images or movies of children

  • Sex of any kind with a minor, including vaginal, oral, or anal

  • Sex trafficking

  • Any other contact of a sexual nature that involves a minor.

The majority of perpetrators are someone the child or family knows. As many as 93 percent of victims under the age of 18 know the abuser. A perpetrator does not have to be an adult to harm a child. They can have any relationship to the child including an older sibling or playmate, family member, a teacher, a coach or instructor, a caretaker, or the parent of another child. According to 1 in 6, “[Child] sexual abuse is the result of abusive behavior that takes advantage of a child’s vulnerability and is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the abusive person.”

Abusers can manipulate victims to stay quiet about the sexual abuse using a number of different tactics. Often an abuser will use their position of power over the victim to coerce or intimidate the child. They might tell the child that the activity is normal or that they enjoyed it. An abuser may make threats if the child refuses to participate or plans to tell another adult. Child sexual abuse is not only a physical violation; it is a violation of trust and/or authority.

Child sexual abuse isn’t always easy to spot and some survivors may not exhibit obvious warning signs. The perpetrator could be someone you’ve known a long time or trust, which may make it even harder to notice. Consider some of the following common warning signs:

Physical Signs:

  • Bleeding, bruises, or swelling in genital area

  • Bloody, torn, or stained underclothes

  • Difficulty walking or sitting

  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections

  • Pain, itching, or burning in genital area

Behavioral Signs:

  • Changes in hygiene, such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively

  • Develops phobias

  • Exhibits signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Expresses suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents

  • Has trouble in school, such as absences or drops in grades

  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviors

  • Nightmares or bed-wetting

  • Overly protective and concerned for siblings, or assumes a caretaker role

  • Returns to regressive behaviors, such as thumb sucking

  • Runs away from home or school

  • Self-harms

  • Shrinks away or seems threatened by physical contact

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