What is sexual abuse? For those who have
been through it, it is the most horrible experience
possible. The person that abuses you is usually someone
you have been told is an authority figure... This means
their word is law. If they say you are bad and what they
do to you is your fault, THEY MUST BE CORRECT!
"Sexual abuse is the most shaming of all abuse. It
takes less sexual abuse than any other form of abuse
to induce shame. Sexual abuse is widespread. It is
estimated that there are currently some 60 million
victims of sexual violence. Our awareness of this
problem has grown trmendously over the last 30
"In the past our understanding has been limited to a
kind of horror story incest victim. Such stories
involved physical- hands-on sexual abuse. Today
we've greatly expanded our understanding of such abuse...Sexual abuse involves whole families and can
be divided as follows:"
1. Physical Sexual Abuse
"This involves hands on touching in a sexual way. The range of abusive behaviors that are sexual
include sexualized hugging or kissing; and kind of sexual touching or fondling; oral and anal sex;
masturbation of the victim or forcing the victim to masturbate the offender; sexual intercourse".
2. Overt Sexual Abuse
"This involves voyeruism, and exhibitionism. This can be outside or inside the home. Parents often
sexually abuse children through voyeurism and exhibitionism. The criteria for in-home voyeurism or
exhibitionism is whether the parent is being sexually stimulated. Sometimes the parent may be so out of
touch with their own sexuality that they are not aware of how sexual they are being. The child almost
always has a kind of icky feeling about it."
3. Covert Sexual Abuse
"This involves inappropriate sexual talking: Dad or any significant male calling women whores or cunts
or objectified sexual names; or Mom or any significant female depreciating men in a sexual way. It also
involves parents or caretakers having to know about every detail of one's private sexual life, asking
questions about a child's sexual physiology or questioning for minute details about dates. Covert sexual
abuse involves not receiving adequate sexual information".
"This involves children witnessing parents in sexual behavior. They may walk in on it frequently
because their parents don't provide closed or locked doors. It also involves the children being allowed no
privacy. They are walked in on in the bathroom. They are not taught to lock their doors or given
permission to lock their doors.
The use of enemas at an early age can also be abusive in a way that leads to sexual dysfunction. The
enemas can be a body boundary violation".
4.Emotional Sexual Abuse
"Emotional sexual abuse results from cross- generational bonding. I've spoken of enmeshment as a way
that children take on the covert needs of a family system. It is very common for one or both parents in a
dysfunctional marriage to bond inappropriately with one of their children. The parents in effect use the
child to meet their emotional needs. The relationship can easily become sexualized and romanticized.
The daughter may become Daddy's Little Princess, or the son may become Mom's Little Man. In both
cases the child is being abandoned. The parents are getting their needs met at the expense of the child's
needs. The child needs a parent not a spouse"
"Pia Mellody gives the following definition of emotional sexual abuse. She says that when "one parent
has a relationship with the child that is more important than the relationship they have with their spouse,
there is emotional sexual abuse"..."Whenever an adult is being sexual with a child, sexual abuse is going
The above is from the book: " Healing The Shame That Binds You", by John Bradshaw.
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