Sexual abuse can include any sexual interaction with a person who is unable to give consent, such as a person who is a minor (according to state law), who has an intellectual disability, or who is passed out (for example, because of drug or alcohol use) or who is unresponsive (for example because he or she is asleep).
An attacker may use physical force or threats or give drugs or alcohol to his victim to sexually abuse her. Sexual abuse includes rape, attempted rape, sexual coercion, sexual contact with a child, unwanted touching, or touching over or under clothing.
Sexual abuse can also be verbal, visual, or non-contact. It is any situation in which a person is forced to engage in sexual activity or in which a person is visually exposed to sexual content. Other examples may include:
- Voyeurism, or peeping (when someone watches private sexual acts without the consent of those involved).
- Exhibitionism (when someone exposes themselves in public).
- Sexual harassment or threats.
- Forcing someone to pose for sexual photos.
- Sending a person unwanted messages or messages with sexual content (with pictures or texts).
A fundamental aspect to consider is consent. Consent refers to a clear “yes” to engage in sexual activity. Saying “no” does not mean that you did not give support. Sexual contact without consent is sexual abuse or rape.
Sometimes consent to sexual contact or activity cannot be considered legal. For example, these cases:
- Is threatened, forced, coerced, coerced, or manipulated into giving consent.
- Does not have the physical capacity to do so (drunk, drugged, unconscious, or asleep).
- Does not have the mental capacity to do so (due to an illness or disability).
- Is not of sufficient age to give legal consent. This age varies from state to state.
Experts defending sex abuse recommend not forgetting that consent is an ongoing process, not a one-time question. If someone agrees to have sex with you, they can change their mind at any time and decide to stop, even after they have started.
Having consented in the past does not mean that you will agree in the future. Likewise, having approved in the past to sex does not mean that your past consent is valid now or in the future.
Saying “yes” to sexual activity does not mean consenting to all sexual activity. If you agree to engage in sexual activity, it is only for the types of sexual activity that you are comfortable with at the time with that partner. For example, consenting to a kiss does not mean that you agree to someone removing your clothes.
The punishment, penalties, and stigma that emanate from a rape conviction can be severe. Unfortunately, sexual abuse is one of the crimes for which many innocent people are falsely accused. Several defending sex abuse strategies can help you beat the charges when you find yourself in this situation.
Regardless of the circumstances, it is advisable to immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney if someone has accused you. Many times a skilled attorney can investigate and discredit the allegations before the prosecuting agency files formal charges.