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Sexual Abuse Treatment

Sexual Abuse Definition | Signs of Sexual Abuse, Sexual Abuse Treatment Options

What are the signs of sexual abuse? What’s the definition of sexual abuse trauma?

SunCloud Health provides expert sexual abuse treatment for the survivors of sexual trauma.

Sexual abuse, or incest, is defined as any sexual contact or interaction between family members who stand in an unequal power relationship. It is a crime of violence against children which happens when the needs of children for affectionate and trusting relationships are violated by family members who use the child to meet their own needs for sexual gratification.

Statistics show that 1 of every 4 girls and 1 of every 6 boys is a victim of sexual abuse before the age of 18; in 85% of the reported cases the offender is known to the child, usually a relative or parent.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes any activity with a child for the sexual gratification of an adult or significantly older child (generally more than 4 years older). Children’s intense need for affection and nurturance from older figures makes them vulnerable. Adults and older children hold a position of tremendous power in their lives. It is the abuse of this power (and the abuse of children’s trust) that is so damaging to children.

Sexual abuse falls into three different categories:

  1. Molestation — Defined as the touching or fondling of the genitals of a child, or asking a child to touch or fondle an adult’s genitals, or using a child to enhance pleasure from sexual acts or pornography
  2. Sexual intercourse — Includes vaginal, oral, or rectal penetration
  3. Rape

It goes without saying that child sexual abuse happens at an alarming rate. Getting an accurate picture of how many are affected by such atrocities is difficult, as many incidents go unreported. However, as the National Center for Victims of Crime states, it is believed that one in 20 boys and as many as one in five girls experience it.

One of the ways to correct the problem is to be able to catch the warning signs of sexual abuse.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Child often don’t tell anyone about sexual abuse, but sometimes they’ll display behavioral, physical, and emotional changes. Many of these changes aren’t specific to sexual abuse—they can happen with other kinds of trauma or stress, and they can vary by age. But it’s important to be alert to these signs, figure out why they’re happening, and get your child help.

Behavioral Signs

These are some behaviors that could mean someone has experienced sexual abuse or another trauma, although none are definite signs of abuse:

  • Withdrawal
  • Displaying adult-like behavior (cursing, knowledge of sexual activity or acting out sexually)
    · Chronic fatigue
    · Clinical depression or apathy
    · Sudden negative self-image
    · Acting out, running away, aggressive, antisocial, and/or delinquent behavior
    · Alcohol or drug abuse
    · Prostitution or excessive promiscuity
    · Suddenly fearful of other things (going outside, participating in familiar activities)
    · Extraordinary fear of males (in cases of male perpetrator/female victim)
    · Self-consciousness of body beyond that expected for age
    · Sudden acquisition of money, new clothes or gifts with no reasonable explanation
    · Suicide attempt or other self-destructive behavior
    · Crying without provocation
    · Fire setting

Physical Symptoms of Sexual Abuse

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
    · Genital discharge or infection
    · Physical trauma or irritations to the anal/genital area (pain, itching, swelling, bruising, bleeding, lacerations, abrasions, especially if unexplained or inconsistent).
    · Pain upon urination/defecation
    · Difficulty in walking or sitting due to genital or anal pain
    · Psychosomatic symptoms (stomachaches, headaches)

Emotional Signs of Sexual Abuse

These are some emotional signs that could indicate the possibility of sexual abuse:

  • Severe anxiety (flashbacks, nightmares or clinging behavior, general feeling of lack of safety)
  • Depression (withdrawal, low self-esteem, thinking about or attempting suicide, frequent crying)
  • Extreme anger (tantrums, aggression, increased irritability)

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Sexual Abuse Definition

The definition of sexual abuse involves an adult engaging in any type of sexual activity with a child or adolescent. It may also involve an adolescent engaging in sexual activity with a younger child.

There are different forms of sexual abuse. Like other forms of abuse, it can be physical, verbal, or emotional. It may be subtle enough that a child does not know what’s happening, but only feels uncomfortable. Child sexual abuse may include:

  • Touching behaviors such as:
    • Fondling a child’s genitals, breasts, or anus for sexual pleasure or other unnecessary reason
    • Playing sexual games or making a child touch someone else’s genitals
    • Inserting objects or body parts (fingers, tongue, or penis) inside the vulva, vagina, mouth, or anus of a child, for sexual pleasure or other unnecessary reason
  • Non-touching behaviors such as:
    • Exposing genitals to a child
    • Showing pornography to a child
    • Making sexual remarks to a child
    • Having a child pose, undress, or perform in a sexual fashion (including for photographs)
    • Peeping into bedrooms and bathrooms

Sexual abuse by a stranger is quite uncommon. The most common perpetrator of sexual abuse is either a family member or a close friend of the family. The offender is often someone the child trusts or loves, such as a parent, neighbor, or relative.

When you suspect sexual abuse, report the abuse to the local authorities as soon as possible. They can help keep the child safe and provide assistance and resources.

Take the First Step. Your Recovery Begins Here.

Click below to send a secure message.
Or call us at (866) 729-1012 from 8am-7pm.

Sexual Abuse Treatment

People are often mistaken that the definition of sexual abuse is being raped or having sex without consent. This is only one form of sexual abuse. There are many degrees of sexual abuse definitions. Being forced to watch pornographic videos and touch someone or use non-verbal behavior to communicate inappropriate desire toward someone are also forms of sexual abuse.

The subject of sexual abuse can bring up a lot of uncomfortable and unwanted feelings of shame, guilt, anger, fear, anxiety, and many other difficult states of mind. It is not surprising, because of the intensity and confusion of sexual abuse, that we find ourselves suppressing its effects and end up struggling in many seemingly unrelated areas of our lives. Sexual abuse may lead to co-occurring issues such harmful relationships with ourselves or others, eating disorders, mental health issues, substance abuse, or gender identity issues. These are some common sexual abuse symptoms but everyone manifests their wounds differently, sometimes people even suppress sexual memory and “blackout” the experience altogether.

If you are questioning whether you have been sexually abused, the answer is probably yes to some degree, and you need to heal and feel safe again. There is nothing wrong with you and the last thing you need to do is blame yourself. There is never a justifiable reason why someone should make another person feel uncomfortable sexually. For you to heal these wounds, sexual abuse treatment is very beneficial.

The SunCloud Health team offers a full range of effective treatment options for men and women who are struggling with a history of sexual abuse or trauma. The therapy that will work best for you will be determined after we’ve talked with you and learned more about your unique needs.

The following are types of therapy we provide for the treatment of sexual abuse and related trauma:

  • Education about trauma, its effects on you, your mind, your soul and your body
  • Group sessions to teach and practice healthy interpersonal and relationship management
  • Individual therapy, including family therapy, if appropriate
  • Expressive and experiential therapy
  • Skills-based therapy such as DBT, ACT and CBT
  • Yoga and body image therapy
  • Regular psychiatric consultations
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

Sexual abuse treatment is offered at SunCloud Health from an expert team of clinicians through our Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs as well as Outpatient Individual and Family Therapy.

Please take the first step toward your healing and call SunCloud Health at (866) 729-1012 to speak with our caring intake specialists or email us at for more information.

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Treatment at SCH is really different.  I have been to several so I know… Most treatment centers are focused on normalizing eating behaviors, weight restoration (or loss) and that is pretty much it.  At SunCloud  this stuff all matters but treatment is much deeper and so much more!  I have been encouraged to look at what drive me to the disordered eating behaviors in the first place.  I have looked at early childhood trauma, I have looked at dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships in my family, I have learned skills to help me respond differently to my thoughts and feelings and most importantly I have learned that I am not alone in my journey.  Dr. Kim and her team genuinely care.  This place is special.  Thank you TK for suggesting I seek treatment at SunCloud!!!!

~ SCH patient

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