Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.
What is the legal age for consent in South Africa?
The law defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years. However, the age of consent is 16 years, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.
It means that adults in South Africa (someone over 18) cannot have sex with minors (12, 13, 14 and 15).
Sexual abuse can also happen in adult relationships, known as “intimate partner sexual violence”.
What is intimate partner sexual violence?
Any unwanted sexual activity you’ve been made to do against your will or been manipulated to accept with things like threats, sulking, or blackmail is considered sexual abuse.
NOTE: if you say no to a sexual act but are coerced into doing it – it is sexual abuse.
Anytime one engages in sexual activity because they feel pressured or forced, it is sexual coercion. It happens most often with someone you already have a relationship with.
Sexual coercion can happen through repeated requests (verbal pressure), manipulation, emotional blackmail, threats, sweet talk, promises and compliments.
Sexual coercion, according to research, can cause a woman to experience self-blame, self-criticism, anger, depression, fear of partner, lower sex desire and post-traumatic stress.
Research has found that women who experience sexual coercion are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress, self-blame and criticism, depression, anger, and lower sexual desire and satisfaction.
NOTE: A sexual partner that doesn’t take no for an answer is a red flag in a relationship – they are often abusive in other ways ( for example, emotional, physical or financial). If you feel uncomfortable being alone with a partner, fear them or have second thoughts about them, please acknowledge your 6th sense telling you something is wrong.
Statutory rape is a form of rape that occurs when someone older than 16 has a sexual relationship with a minor – a child younger than 16 (birth – 15 years).
According to South African law, a child younger than 12 years cannot give consent to have sex. It is because the law deems them incapable of making such a decision. Sex with a child younger than 12 is rape or sexual assault.
Examples of possible consent or NO responses from a partner:
- It hurts NO
- That feels nice CONSENT
- Uhm, I am so drunk NO
- Can we try CONSENT
- Partner is silent – no response NO
- Partner fell asleep NO
- I am not ready for it yet NO
- I am scared NO
- Please stop NO
- I don’t want to do this anymore NO
- I am unsure NO
If you are in a relationship with a partner abusing you in any way, reach out and get help.
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