Sexual abuse is a pervasive problem in psychiatry. Clinicians are in a position to understand sexual abuse on the level of the individual, the family and society and to provide leadership and support for organized social action to address it. Childhood sexual abuse is a subtype of physical abuse defined as sexual contact between an adult and a child under the age of 18 years of age in which the child is used for sexual gratification. A parental figure who allows sexual contact with a child is also a sexual offender. Sexual violence toward adults includes sexual molestation, rape by strangers, date rape, rape in marriage and rape during war. Sexual abuse continues to be a pervasive problem. Up to one out of three females and one out
of seven males have been sexually abused. Clinicians are obliged to inquire about sexual abuse in a sensitive, non-judgmental way. Mental health services need to assume leadership of organized social action that addresses the legal, correctional, cultural and social management of sexual abuse. Individuals need specialized treatment including the introduction of hope and help in finding meaning in their suffering. Families need access to family therapy and psychoeducation. Society needs to send a message to families and communities that sexual abuse will not be tolerated.
The Meaning of Sexual Abuse
Last date updated on June, 2014