Sexual abuse or sex abuse, also referred to as molestation, is abusive sexual behavior by one person upon another. It is often perpetrated using force or by taking advantage of another. Molestation often refers to an instance of sexual assault against a small child, whereas sexual abuse is a term used for a persistent pattern of sexual assaults.
Spousal sexual abuse is a form of domestic violence. When the abuse involves threats of unwanted sexual contact or forced sex by a woman's husband or ex-husband, it may constitute rape, depending on the jurisdiction, and may also constitute an assault.
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which a child is abused for the sexual gratification of an adult or older adolescent. It includes direct sexual contact, the adult or otherwise older person engaging indecent exposure (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.) to a child with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to intimidate or groom the child, asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities, displaying pornography to a child, or using a child to produce child pornography.
Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest, which can result in severe long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.
Globally, approximately 18–19% of women and 8% of men disclose being sexually abused during their childhood. The gender gap may be caused by higher victimization of girls, lower willingness of men to disclose abuse, or both. Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. Most child sexual abuse is committed by men; women commit approximately 14% of offenses reported against boys and 6% of offenses reported against girls. Child sexual abuse offenders are not pedophiles unless they have a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children.
People with developmental disabilities are often victims of sexual abuse. According to research, people with disabilities are at a greater risk for victimization of sexual assault or sexual abuse because of lack of understanding (Sobsey & Varnhagen, 1989).
Elderly people, especially those with dementia, can be at risk of abuse. There were over 6,000 "safeguarding concerns and alerts" at UK care homes from 2013 to 2015. These included alleged inappropriate touching and worse allegations. Offenders were most often other residents but staff also offended. It is suspected some care homes may deliberately overlook these offenses.
Sexual abuse is a problem in some minority communities. In 2007, a number of Hispanic victims were included in the settlement of a massive sexual abuse case involving the Los Angeles archdiocese of the Catholic Church. A qualitative study by Kim et al. discusses the experiences of sexual abuse in the US population of Mexican immigrant women, citing immigration, acculturation, and several other social elements as risk factors for abuse.
Child sexual abuse prevention programmes were developed in the United States of America during the 1970s and originally delivered to children. Programmes delivered to parents were developed in the 1980s and took the form of one-off meetings, two to three hours long. In the last 15 years, web-based programmes have been developed.
Sexual misconduct can occur where one person uses a position of authority to compel another person to engage in an otherwise unwanted sexual activity. For example, sexual harassment in the workplace might involve an employee being coerced into a sexual situation out of fear of being dismissed. Sexual harassment in education might involve a student submitting to the sexual advances of a person in authority in fear of being punished, for example by being given a failing grade.
In October 2020, a powerful member of the United Arab Emirates' royal family, Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan was accused of exploiting his authority by a British citizen, Caitlin McNamara, who was working on Abu DhabiHay Festival. On February 14 that year, the UAE's Minister of Tolerance called McNamara for a dinner at his villa on private island and sexually abused the woman, who was organizing the literary festival for the country.
^"Peer commentaries on Green (2002) and Schmidt (2002)". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 31 (6): 479–503. 2002. doi:10.1023/A:1020603214218. S2CID102340546. Child molester is a pejorative term applied to both the pedophile and incest offender.
^Brown, Rick; Napier, Sarah; Smith, Russell G (2020), Australians who view live streaming of child sexual abuse: An analysis of financial transactions, Australian Institute of Criminology, ISBN9781925304336 pp. 1–4.
^Patricia, Mahoney. "The Wife Rape Fact Sheet". National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center. National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center. Archived from the original on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
^ ab"Child Sexual Abuse". Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2008-04-02. Archived from the original on 2013-12-05. Retrieved 2016-05-08.
^Kim, T; Draucker, CB; Bradway, C; Grisso, JA; Sommers, MS (2017). "Somos Hermanas Del Mismo Dolor (We Are Sisters of the Same Pain): intimate partner sexual violence narratives among Mexican immigrant women in the United States". Violence Against Women. 23 (5): 623–642. doi:10.1177/1077801216646224. PMID27130923. S2CID43738091.
^Babatsikos, Georgia (2010). "Parents' knowledge, attitudes and practices about preventing child sexual abuse: a literature review". Child Abuse Review. 19 (2): 107–129. doi:10.1002/car.1102. ISSN0952-9136.
^Amy, Neustein, ed. (2009). Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities and Child Sex Scandals. Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life. Waltham, Massachusetts: Brandeis University Press. ISBN978-1-58465-671-5.
Sobsey, Richard; Varnhagen, Connie (1989). "Sexual abuse and exploitation of people with disabilities: Toward Prevention and Treatment". In Csapo, Marg; Goguen, Leonard (eds.). Special Education across Canada: issues and concerns for the '90s. Vancouver: Centre for Human Development and Research. pp. 199–218). ISBN0-919291-25-2. OCLC22539921.
Valenti-Hein, Denise; Schwartz, Linda D (1995). Sexual Abuse Interview for those With Developmental Disabilities. Santa Barbara, CA, US: James Stanfield Company. OCLC4769388904.