Child Sexual abuse

Child Sexual abuse

You can spend a lifetime trying to forget just a few minutes of your childhood.

Sexual abuse is a particularly sinister type of trauma because of the shame it instills in the victim. With childhood sexual abuse, victims are often too young to know how to express what is happening and seek out help. When not properly treated, this can result in a lifetime of PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Some of the most startling statistics unearthed during research into sexual abuse are that children are three times as likely to be victims of rape than adults, and stranger abuse constitutes by far the minority of cases. It is more likely for a child to experience sexual abuse at the hands of a family member or another supposedly trustworthy adult.

What is child sexual abuse?

Child sexual abuse is defined as “any sexual act with a child performed by an adult or an older  child.”  Child sexual abuse could include a number of acts, including but not limited to:


  •  Sexual touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed;
  •  Penetrative sex, including penetration of the mouth;
  •  Encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity, including masturbation;
  •  Intentionally engaging in sexual activity in front of a child;
  •  Showing children pornography, or using children to create pornography;
  •  Encouraging a child to engage in prostitution.

Why kids do not disclose sexual abuse

Why kids do not disclose sexual abuse?

The entire child protection system is based on the assumption that kids can be taught to report sexual advances and abuse and that this will stop these crimes. Research and criminal data indicates that children rarely reports. 89% of abuse cases involve a person in the family’s acquaintance circle.

Why don’t kids tell?

1. Most kids deal with sexual abuse alone. Parents and adults live in fantasy world that kids are safe.

2. They are too young to verbalise what is happening. Kids under the age of 5 are at the greatest risk. Even elementary school kids are not familiar with words such a masturbation, fondling, sodomy and intercourse.

3.Sometimes a child discloses to an adult but the message is not recognised as such. A child might only say they don’t like an adult. Or that the adult smells bad.

4. By the time youngsters go to school they know their parents don’t talk about private parts or sex. Kids therefore have a horror to discuss their private parts or sex with their parents. Predators are aware of this and the more deviant the sex, the less likely the child will tell.

5. Parents assume the education system will teach kids about sex and abuse. They avoid sordid details in teaching kids about sexual abuse but this leaves it t children to infer what is unsaid. For example: ‘’Someone may do something bad to you, something you don’t like, that feels funny and you should say no to it’’

6. Young children often cannot recognise sexual crime as such, particularly if the offenders frames it in such a way for example ‘’isn’t this game fun?’’

7. The advice ‘’keep telling until someone believes you’’ borders on the absurd, because kids find it hard enough make one report to begin with. A child’s natural shyness about matters of sexual nature is a powerful tool in the hands of a sex offender.

8. Sex offenders use toys, outings and money to keep kids complaint and quiet. Where bribery doesn’t work they use fear. A child may fear he/she will be arrested for the crime.

9. Where the sex offender is a parent, disclosure is very unlikely, because kids are taught to respect and obey their parents.

10. Know this – in the realm of sexual offenses children are far more likely to fail to report sexual abuse rather than to fabricate behaviour that never happened.

What are symptoms of child sexual abuse?

  • A noticeable fear of a person or certain places;
  • Unusual response from the child when asked if he or she was touched;
  • Unreasonable fear of a physical exam;
  • Drawings that show sexual acts;
  • Abrupt changes in behavior, such as bed-wetting or losing control of his or her bowels;
  • Sudden awareness of genitals and sexual acts and words;
  • Attempting to get other children to perform sexual acts.

Porn, Trafficking & Child sexual abuse?

Is there a relationship between PORN, TRAFFICKING & THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN?

“The connection between child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation is really profound. Almost all of our girls have had a history of sexual abuse in the past. And it’s because of the boundaries being blurred. Learning that you can’t trust anybody. That you have to hold secrets. … That your body is a sexual object, something that is com-modified. Through the grooming process (for sexual abuse), the child faces escalating abuse, escalating violence, and it’s being alternated with rewards.

So, you’re uncle comes over, he asks you to sit on his lap, you sit on his lap and he gives you love and that feels really good; and the next day he comes over and you sit on his lap and he gives you love and that feels really good, but then he puts his hand on your leg and then you go out for ice cream. The next day he comes over, you sit on his lap, he puts his hand a little bit further up your leg, and you go out for ice cream after. So when it actually crosses the line and becomes very traumatic, the child is going to disassociate from that experience and just look forward to the rewards. And I see that pattern of abuse followed by rewards repeating with traffickers and children later.”
View from a professional person who rescues sexual trafficking victims

How does a person, usually a man, arrive at a place where he is willing to buy sex from a child he has never met before and who he knows full well would rather be almost anywhere else in the world, and who probably ended up there through sexual abuse, poverty, a complete absence of family and social supports, and a heavy dose of desperation? How does he get to the point where he will buy sex for his own gratification from a child in that situation?

One of the biggest factors?
Pornography is the industrialization of sex. Pornography plays at least two important roles in this industry. First, it’s marketing as we’ve already established. But second, it is a commodity unto itself. The recorded sex act can be sold over and over again.

The two biggest trends on the demand side in the pornography industry today are for younger victims and more violent sexual behavior. Put this together with pornography being addictive and progressive in nature and what you have is an increasing demand for child victims.
If you’re new to the subject, you have to slow down a moment and think that through. If a child is present in pornographic material (whether a photo, video, sound recording etc.) that child was being sexually abused in order to make that material. The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) are sex trafficking, child sex tourism and child pornography. (August 9, 2016 | By Paula Sellars)

On average, children first fall victim to commercial sexual exploitation between the ages of 12 and 14.
75% of child pornography victims are living at home when they are photographed or videotaped.
Parents are often responsible.
70-90% of children who fall victim to CSEC were first sexually abused in non-commercial situations.


1. Don’t consume child pornography. It’s illegal. But don’t even consume the legal images that are facsimiles of children in sexual contexts. Don’t be the demand, because demand drives supply.
2. Pull your support from companies that profit from sexually objectifying children. Don’t buy their wares. Don’t be part of a culture that normalizes the sexualizing of children and commodifies them.
3. If you are in a hotel, at bus stop, in the airport, at a rest stop or the like and you see a young person who looks frightened, dishevelled, out of context, or with someone older who appears not to be a parent, make a phone call to the police. He or she may be being commercially sexually exploited. If you see something, say something.
4. You have to teach your kids how to stay safe at all times. It is never too early for talks about sex and safety.

What is the effect of child sexual abuse?

The most striking thing about child sexual abuse is its power to disrupt lives. 
Immediate reactions to sexual abuse include shock, fear or disbelief. Sexually-abused children report feeling that something is wrong with them, that the abuse is their own fault, and that they should blame themselves for the abuse.Long-term symptoms include anxiety, fear or post-traumatic stress disorder

Adult survivors of child sexual abuse reportedly suffered from low rates of secondary school completion, long-term mistrust of others, illness, depression, dissociation, sleep problems, self-injury and self-mutilation, eating disorders, agoraphobia, and painful memories. They found a clear link between a history of child sexual abuse and higher rates in adult life of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder (Mullen & Fleming, 1998).

What are the legal aspects of Child Sexual Abuse?

Who can be a perpetrator of sexual assault?

Anyone may be the perpetrator of sexual assault. The perpetrator may be a stranger, an acquaintance, a lover, a partner, or a date. Most of the time the perpetrator of the assault is someone the victim knows, either a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, other relative, or acquaintance.

Note: There is a strong link between porn addiction and becoming a sexual predator. According to Dr Antoinette Basson from the Youth Research Unit at UNISA many sexual offenders are indeed porn addicts who started acting out. They are not pedophiles as such.  In his last interview Ted Bundy, a serial killer who murdered 35 women, also said, without exception – every serial killer he met over many years in jail, was addicted to pornography.

Who can be a victim of sexual assault?

Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. Although it is more common for women to be victims, approximately 1 out of 10 men have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.

Self help

Parents do not always talk to their children about body safety early enough. They think kids are too young. It is too scary.
IT IS NEVER TO SOON, and it doesn’t have to be a scary conversation. Here are things 10 things that could help your child be less vulnerable to sexual abuse:

10 Things to teach your child

1. Talk about body parts early.

Name body parts and talk about them very early. Use proper names for body parts, or at least teach your child what the actual words are for their body parts. I can’t tell you how many young children I have worked with who have called their vagina their “bottom.” Feeling comfortable using these words and knowing what they mean can help a child talk clearly if something inappropriate has happened.

2. Teach them that some body parts are private.

Tell your child that their private parts are called private because they are not for everyone to see. Explain that mommy and daddy can see them naked, but people outside of the home should only see them with their clothes on. Explain how their doctor can see them without their clothes because mommy and daddy are there with them and the doctor is checking their body.

3. Teach your child body boundaries.

Tell your child matter-of-factly that no one should touch their private parts and that no one should ask them to touch somebody else’s private parts. Parents will often forget the second part of this sentence. Sexual abuse often begins with the perpetrator asking the child to touch them or someone else.

4. Tell your child that body secrets are not okay.

Most perpetrators will tell the child to keep the abuse a secret. This can be done in a friendly way, such as, “I love playing with you, but if you tell anyone else what we played they won’t let me come over again.” Or it can be a threat: “This is our secret. If you tell anyone I will tell them it was your idea and you will get in big trouble!” Tell your kids that no matter what anyone tells them, body secrets are not okay and they should always tell you if someone tries to make them keep a body secret.

5. Tell your child that no one should take pictures of their private parts.

This one is often missed by parents. There is a whole sick world out there of pedophiles who love to take and trade pictures of naked children online. This is an epidemic and it puts your child at risk.Tell your kids that no one should ever take pictures of their private parts.

6. Teach your child how to get out of scary or uncomfortable situations.

Some children are uncomfortable with telling people “no”— especially older peers or adults. Tell them that it’s okay to tell an adult they have to leave, if something that feels wrong is happening, and help give them words to get out of uncomfortable situations. Tell your child that if someone wants to see or touch private parts they can tell them that they need to leave to go potty.

Get help

What should I do if I was sexually abused?

  • Recognising that there is a problem is the first stage of getting help.
  • If you are younger than 18 years old, please find an adult or helpline you trust and tell them what is happening.
  • If you are living with the person who has abused you, there are a number of options available if you need to get out.
  • Refuges and shelters can be great places seek temporary accommodation. There are also usually a number of other services available in refuges, including legal advice, emotional support, practical help (like food and clothing), and good security.
  • Family or friends. If you can, get in contact with a family member or friend that you trust and ask if you can stay with them while you work out what to do next.

How should you react after a child tells?

  • Stay steady
  • Believe what they say.
  • Re-establish safety.
  • Free them from self-blame.
  • Express your rage to the appropriate people – not to the child.
  • Get help immediately.

What should I do if I was sexually assaulted?

  • Get help. Call *120*7355 on your cell phone if you need immediate medical or police assistance in South Africa. This number will give you your three nearest rape/assault centres where you can get medical attention.
  •  Go to a safe place as soon as you can and ask someone you trust to stay with you.
  • Try to preserve all evidence of the assault. Avoid drinking, bathing, showering, douching, brushing your teeth, or changing your clothes. Evidence can be collected at an emergency room and you can decide later whether or not you want to press criminal charges.
  • Try to write down, or have a friend write down, everything you can remember about the incident including a physical description of the perpetrator, their identity if you know it, and the use of threats, force or coercion, such as asking repeatedly, pressuring you, getting you to drink a lot or take drugs, etc.
  •  Consider getting medical care. Go to Health Services or a hospital emergency room that provides medical care for sexual assault victims. Even if you think that you do not have any physical injuries, it’s important to get medical care to discuss STIs, date rape drugs, pregnancy prevention, and evidence collection. All services, except evidence collection and drug testing, can be provided at Health Services. You also need PEP ( Post Exposure Profilaxis) ARV’s to prevent you from being infected with HIV if you were raped. You can get PEP  free of charge from any government health facility, if you laid a charge of rape with the SAPS. You have to take PEP within 72 hours after the rape occurred.
  • If you think you were drugged or consumed a sedative-like substance, ask the medical provider to take a urine sample. Date rape drugs like GHB and Rohypnol are more likely to be detected in urine than in blood. If you still have remnants of the drink, save them for analysis. Since many of these drugs clear the system quickly, a negative test result does not necessarily mean that no drug was involved.

MOBIEG Helpline


If you need counselling or someone to talk to, you can get help free of charge on the MOBIEG Helpline: Live Chat. You may stay anonymous. It is safe to talk to MOBIEG, because no one can trace your chat. The helpline is online Sunday – Thursday 19h00-21h30.

More helplines:


Call: 0800 055 555 Hours: 24 hour helpline

SADAG Police and Trauma Line
Call: 0800 20 50 26 Hours: 8am-8pm
Call: 0861 322 322 Hours: 24 hour helpline

Sexual Abuse gets stronger in secrecy. Talk to someone. It will help you to stop the abuse.



If you are unsure if what you experience is sexual abuse, you can do a self-test to learn more:

Sexual Abuse Quiz

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You can book individual counselling sessions with the following therapists: