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Sexual abuse, or sexual violence, describes any type of sexual activity that is unwanted. There are many different types of abuse, including those we’re more familiar with (such as rape and child sexual abuse) and those we may be less aware of (like female genital mutilation and sexual exploitation).

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, at any stage of their lives. No one ever deserves it or ‘asks for it’. On this page we will look at how being abused in this way can make you feel, the power of talking and how to look after your mental health.

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse happens when someone is forced or pressured into taking part in any type of sexual activity. This includes being forced to have sex (rape), being sent sexual messages/images against your will (sexting) or being touched in a sexual way without your permission (sexual assault).

This type of abuse can also involve being forced to have sex with someone in return for money (sexual exploitation), being bullied in a sexual way (sexual harassment) or being forced to take part in ritual abuse (female genital mutilation).

If you’ve experienced sexual violence, you may feel very alone. But in reality, this is not the case. There are thousands of people who have gone through similar experiences and there is a huge amount of support out there.

The most important thing is to speak up and not to suffer in silence.

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