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Sexual Abuse Issues

How to Tell if your Child may have been Abused

In most cases there are no blatant signs that a child has been molested, however as a parent it is important to trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong it probably is, and it is important to get children to talk to you about whatever problems they have. The following are some indicators that something may have happened:

Why Children Don’t Tell

There is a myriad of reasons why children don't tell about sexual abuse. The biggest of these is fear. Children are afraid no one will believe them especially since many abusers tell children this. Children often believe the threats of their abuser. Children fear that the abuser will hurt them or their families if they tell. Children also don't tell because they feel guilty. They may feel guilty if they get an adult "in trouble". Children often feel they are somehow responsible for their abuse. Often since children know their abusers, they care about these people and don't want to "tell". Children are many times threatened by the abusers that they will be taken away from home. Everyone fears the unknown, especially children, and as parents we must teach our children that if this ever happens to them we will protect and believe them.

Other reasons include that children:

Silence enables sexual abuse to continue. Silence protects sexual offenders and hurts children who are being abused. Sexual abuse is an extremely difficult and damaging experience. Today there are many resources to help victims and their families. Children no longer need to suffer in silence.

The Feelings of Abused Children

Children who have been sexually abused feel many different (and often overwhelming) emotions, including:

Fear: of the abuser, of causing trouble, of losing adults important to them, of being taken away from home, of being "different"

Anger: at the abuser, at other adults around them who did not protect them , at themselves (feeling as if they caused trouble)

Isolation: because "something is wrong with me" , because they feel alone in their experience, because they have trouble talking about the abuse

Sadness: about having something taken from them, about losing a part of themselves, about growing up too fast, about being betrayed by someone they trusted

Guilt: for not being able to stop the abuse, for believing they "consented" to the abuse, for "telling", if they told, for keeping the secret, if they did not tell

Shame: about being involved in the experience , about their bodies' response to the abuse

Confusion: because they may still love the abuser, because their feelings change all the time

What to do if your Child has been abused

“I can barely remember most of the incidents that occurred to me as a child, it's mostly a blur to me but one thing I can remember is the first sentence out of my mother's mouth when I told her. She asked me if I had made it up because I hated my stepfather”.

The moments after a child makes a disclosure of sexual abuse are crucial to the child's mental health. The following are some guidelines on how to effectively deal with a child who has opened up to you.


Keep calm. It is important to remember that you are not angry with the child, but at what happened. Children can mistakenly interpret anger or disgust as directed towards them.

Believe the child. In most circumstances children do not lie about sexual abuse.

Give positive messages such as "I know you couldn't help it," or "I'm proud of you for telling."

Explain to the child that he or she is not to blame for what happened.

Listen to and answer the child's questions honestly.

Respect the child's privacy. Be careful not to discuss the abuse in front of people who do not need to know what happened.

Be Responsible. Report the incident to the authorities. They can help protect the child's safety and provide resources for further help.

Arrange a medical exam. It can reassure you that there has been no permanent physical damage and may verify important evidence.

Get help. Get competent professional counselling, even if it's only for a short time.


Panic or overreact when the child talks about the experience. Children need help and support to make it through this difficult time.

Pressure the child to talk or avoid talking about the abuse. Allow the child to talk at her or his own pace. Forcing information can be harmful. Silencing the child will not help her or him to forget.

Confront the offender in the child's presence. The stress may be harmful. This is a job for the authorities.


What to do if You Are Raped

If you are raped it is very important that you get to a safe area as soon as possible.

Call for help or have someone call for you as quickly as you can.

Do not change your clothes, comb your hair, shower, douche or change anything about yourself, until after you've had an examination by a doctor. Valuable evidence can be destroyed even by something as simple as drinking water or going to the bathroom. Try very hard not to do these things.

Most of the time the police will want to keep your clothing to look at for evidence. It's a good idea to have someone bring you a complete set of clothing.

If you report the crime the police will have some very difficult questions for you. The questions may not make a lot of sense to you at the time but there is a reason behind all of them.

If you feel uncomfortable answering personal questions to a man you can ask for a female officer or for a member of your local rape crisis centre.

Rape is a crime. It isn't something that you need blame yourself for. It happens because someone wanted to take advantage of someone else. It has very little to do with sex and is more a crime of power and control where sex is a weapon used against you.

One thing that is nearly impossible at first is to realize that what happened to you is not something that was your fault. I don't care what you did, where you were, or what you said, being raped is not your fault.

You are only responsible for your actions, not for the actions of another person. The choices you made must have been the right ones if you are able to read this. Not every woman who is raped lived through it. You did. That's what's most important.

You may ask yourself, repeatedly, "Why did this happen to me?" There are not any easy answers. It comes down to a choice one person made to control another person. Rape isn't a crime about sex. Sex is only a weapon. It's even harder if you know the person who raped you. Yet, studies show us that most of the time the person is known to the victim, perhaps even from prior dates. That however; doesn't mean that what happened to you wasn't rape. Even if you consented to sex before but didn't this time, it's still rape.

You may feel completely betrayed because the person who did this was someone you knew and trusted. However; most rapes are done by people the victim knows and trusts. That's part of what makes this crime even more awful.

No matter how much you trusted this person, the actions taken against you are inexcusable. They are not something that were your fault. Any shame that you feel is shame that belongs to the attacker and not to you. That's easier said than done but it is true.

There's no shame in doing what you have to do to survive a rape.

Tips For Recovery - from Rape Survivors

These tips are to help you heal. Use them. If you have any suggestions for adding more email me. I will be glad to have them.

Take time to be kind to yourself. It takes time to overcome a tragedy. Do not feel as though you must be healed NOW! Give yourself time.

Keep a journal. This is a wonderful way, not only to help process your thoughts but when you look back. You can see patterns that need to be changed. It can also show you how much healing you have done.

If you have a flashback. Hold on to something. Maybe a table or even a friend. Take a deep breath, exhale slowly. Focus on what is going on around you that you can see and touch. Keep doing this until you feel better.

Flashbacks are caused by triggers. Identifying those triggers and eliminating the ones you can will help keep your flashback from recurring as often.

Nightmare duty can be assigned to another person. If you have a nightmare, you know the ones that leave you unsure where you are or who you are with, you can assign someone else in the household to turn on all the lights maybe some calming music, and do whatever else you need done to make you feel safe.

You can try redirecting your dreams. When you lie down to go to sleep tell yourself that if you experience a nightmare you are going to turn it around. It takes a lot of work, but several people have told me it works for them.

If you feel like you are more secure with a stuffed animal go ahead! Is it really going to matter to anyone else if you have a teddy bear on your bed? It is you who needs to heal. If it helps you feel better to do this then do it. If you are afraid to go into a store and buy one for yourself then tell yourself it is part of taking care of that scared part inside of you. Because that is exactly what you are doing.

Support. Support. Support. Find some. If you do not have anyone to sort your feelings out with then seek the help of a counsellor.

You have an opportunity to do something new. You may experience anger and deep frustration. THIS IS NORMAL. I have known of people taking voice lessons, learn to play a musical instrument, begin karate or any number of things. What matters is that it gives you time to heal and use some of your anger.

Take 5. Take 5 minutes everyday and just be nice to yourself. You may be thinking how can I do that? It isn't so difficult. Next time you are in stalled traffic pop in a soothing tape (one that you use especially for times like these.) Set the alarm so you get up 5 minutes early and watch the sun rise. Right before going to bed take 5 minutes and make a determined effort to set them aside for "you" time. It's not as hard as you might think.

Take soothing warm baths scented with your favourite oils etc. This need not be expensive but can really take the pressures away. While you are doing this listen to some soft relaxing music.

Do you like hot tea? Or flavoured hot chocolate or coffee? Sit down and fix yourself a cup. Sip it slowly. Take your time. Enjoy.

When you feel anxiety climbing to the uppermost limit, stop what you are doing. Look around you. If you do not feel safe go to a safe place immediately. When you are safe try to concentrate on breathing out very slowly. Do this several times until you feel better. Resist the urge to rush. Just concentrate on breathing out slowly and relaxing. See the Panic Attacks and Anxiety page and also the Relaxation page.

When you get angry don't be afraid of it. Rip an old newspaper to shreds. Stomp all over a pillow. Run in place. Throw safe objects that aren't breakable into other safe spaces, stomp your feet, yell, scream into your pillow. Do whatever it takes to get the anger out. Don't hold it in.

Remember those wonderfully fun looking puddles you always wanted to splash in as a child? Well, why not now? It's a great stress breaker too. The puddles are still there.

Is it winter and you have snow in the yard? Build a snow person. It'll be fun, and takes lots of energy. Best done by recruiting neighbourhood childrens help.

Go to a used book store and prowl around until you find a book you like. They may be re-runs but it will be "new to you" and an inexpensive treat.

How about a foot massage? Grab your favourite lotion and slowly caress your feet, taking your time and relaxing as you go.

Find a really good friend who care's to talk to and go places with.

Go out to a movie. If you don't have anyone to go with, go anyway. It can be a relaxing afternoon for you!

Treat yourself to a manicure or go to a salon to just have your hair styled. It's a great pick-me-up!

Prevention of Date and Acquaintance Rape

There are five factors which may lead to date or acquaintance rape:

Drugs and Alcohol: Drugs and alcohol are the number one factor that leads to date and acquaintance rape. Seventy-five to eighty percent of all date and acquaintance rapes involve drugs and alcohol. Do not mix sexual decisions with drugs and alcohol. Your ability to make smart decisions is lessened when you are drunk or high. You may think you are being romantic when you are really forcing your date. If your date is not sober enough to give consent and you force them to have sex, it is rape. Observe how your environment around you is changing, such as your being left at a party by your friends when you don’t have a way to get home. React immediately. Avoid secluded places. Go to a public place when you are getting to know someone new. Don't leave a party with someone you have just met. Don't go to an empty apartment, the park, or out on the beach with someone you don't know very well.

Mixed Messages: Sometimes our actions, appearance, and words can give an unintended message, one that may be interpreted as an invitation for sex. If you think you are getting mixed messages, that is, your date is saying one thing and then doing another, you have a right to ask them what they want. If you think they are playing games, ask for clarification. Be in charge of your own life. When on a date, don't ever feel that you "owe" that person anything. Have an agreement with a friend or your parents that you can call them any time, even at night, and they will come and get you no questions asked. Listen to your intuition and trust yourself. If you get any "funny feelings" about someone or a situation, get away. It's better to be embarrassed than raped. Trusting your intuition could be the smartest thing you have ever done. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Different Expectations: Be aware of the fact that many of us have different expectations in dating relationships. Decide what your sexual limits are. Think about what you really want, before you get into any sexual situations where someone else may be pressuring you. Tell your partner clearly what these limits are. They cannot read your mind. Don't make them guess. You risk the chance of getting hurt if you do. Do not assume you know what your date wants. Ask them. If they are affectionate and engage in hugging, kissing, or fondling, that does not mean they want intercourse. Talk about what you both want, without pressure. If your date is not sure, give them time to decide. You deserve an answer, but until then, do not assume that intercourse is okay.

Believing No means Yes: Be aware of the myth that when a person says no to sex, they really mean yes. Be assertive. Give clear verbal and nonverbal messages about what you want and don't want. When you say no, say it like you mean it. No means no. Whenever it is said. Never pressure anyone into doing something they do not want to do, especially when it comes down to having intercourse. Respect yourself enough not to do anything you do not want to do. Your body is personal and private. It was not made for someone else's pleasure.

Learned Violence: Be aware of the "cycle of abuse" and the stereotypes about males and females within our society. Be aware of stereotypes which prevent people from acting themselves. Males feeling they need to be strong and aggressive, and females feeling they need to be weak and quiet. If you are angry, frustrated, or disappointed, do not use violence as a way to solve the problem. If your date does not want to have sex with you, they are not necessarily rejecting you. They just may not be ready to have intercourse at that time in their life. Check out a new date. Talk to others who have dated them before, or people who know them. If they have a reputation for "scoring" you might be next.

What if NO Doesn't Work?

There are no right or wrong answers to this question. Every situation is different. No matter how a person reacts, they do not deserve to be abused, and it is not their fault. Sexual abuse is a human issue, it affects males and females of all ages. Thinking about what you would do before an assault ever happens can be a valuable self-defence strategy. Here are some good options for all of us to consider:

Act immediately: Trust your intuition and get away. Don't give in to a person's sexual demands and then hope you can divert them later on.

Try to stay as calm as possible. Try to think clearly about all your options. Are there any people around who can help you? Is there a place to run? Your brain is the best weapon you have.

Passive resistance: You may be able to discourage the attacker by trying to calm the person and persuade them not to commit the assault. If you gain the person's confidence, you might be able to escape to a safe place or scream to attract attention. You may be able to discourage the attacker by claiming to be sick or pregnant, or by fainting, or by acting crazy.

Active resistance: There is no guarantee that fighting back or screaming is the right thing to do. It may discourage an attack, but it could also anger them and cause them to attack more forcefully.

Screaming will alert passersby and may frighten off an attacker. People are willing to respond to cries of "Help!", "Police!", or "Fire". If you are in a car, you may try honking your horn.

Fighting back and struggling might also discourage the attacker. If you are not afraid to hurt someone and if you can hit or kick hard, this might give you the opportunity to escape.

Weapons such as guns, knives and chemical sprays can easily be turned against you unless you are trained and not afraid to use these weapons.

Martial arts training can make you more self-confident and improve your physical strength. The training can be very effective, but it takes continuous practice to maintain these skills. Do not think that a little self-defense is a substitute for common sense, caution and awareness.

Submitting: Do whatever you have to do keep yourself safe. During an assault, your safety or life is threatened and your best option may be to submit. Submitting does not mean you consented. The assault is not your fault and is still a crime. You did not ask to be raped.

Myths of Male abuse

Boys and men can't be Survivors:

Anyone can be abused. Abuse does not discriminate against gender, age or race. There are no exceptions. Forget society's standards of manliness, males suffer just as severely in different and similar ways to females who have been abused. They are also entitled to the same kind of respect, support and understanding as any other survivor of abuse.

Most sexual abuse of boys is perpetrated by homosexual males.

Paedophiles for the most part have an age and gender preference, however it has been proven that of those child molesters seeking out boys, are not expressing a homosexual tendency any more than those who attack girls practicing heterosexual behaviour. Most are not homosexual and are simply paedophiles.

If a boy experiences sexual arousal or orgasm from abuse, this means he was a willing participant or enjoyed it.

Males genitals react to stimulation just as female genitals. This is not evidence of willingness to participate or enjoyment, but rather the body physically reacting to the experience. Many survivors feel shame and guilt over experiencing arousal to stimulation during the attack, this is however a natural response and not an indication of encouraging the attack to happen.

Boys are less traumatized by the abuse experience than girls.

While affected in different and similar ways, both men and women often suffer severe trauma when dealing with abuse. The biggest hurdle males often have to overcome is society's reaction and stereotypical belief revolving around the macho male image. Neither men or women when coping with being abused feel its effects any more or less than the other. All cases of abuse are just as good or bad as another's and just of deserving of help and support to deal with the situation.

Boys abused by males are or will become homosexual.

There is little to support this myth as homosexuality is a way of life and a decision to be made - not forced upon someone. However there are cases where men will become homosexual because the act of sex with a male is all they have ever known. On the opposite side of the scale, it can just as easily trigger a homophobic reaction in the survivor. There is no evidence to suggest in any form that the survivors are or will be homosexual through their abuse. It is an individual personal decision. Such experience can have great impact on that decision, however the situation itself does not make a male homosexual.

If the perpetrator is female, the boy or adolescent should consider himself fortunate to have been initiated into heterosexual activity.

There is nothing 'lucky' about being abused, be the perpetrator male or female. As with female survivors, often there is a lot of confusion, and betrayal of trust if the offender is known to the survivor. There is also the fact that rape in a heterosexual experience can be just as terrifying, painful and traumatic as with rape in a homosexual situation. Abuse in any form is a crime and survivors of such abuse are not any better or worse of than any other survivor who shares their experience. All cases are equal and deserving of the same respect, support and understanding. They are also individual and there are many things to do with each case that cannot be associated with another person's experience.

Believing These Myths Is Dangerous and Damaging.

So long as society believes these myths, and teaches them to children from their earliest years, sexually abused males will be unlikely to get the recognition and help they need. So long as society believes these myths, sexually abused males will be more likely join the minority of survivors who perpetuate this suffering by abusing others. So long as boys or men who have been sexually abused believe these myths, they will feel ashamed and angry. And so long as sexually abused males believe these myths they reinforce the power of another devastating myth that all abused children struggle with: that it was their fault. It is never the fault of the child in a sexual situation - though perpetrators can be quite skilled at getting their victims to believe these myths and take on responsibility that is always and only their own.

For any male who has been sexually abused, becoming free of these myths is an essential part of the recovery process.

Therapeutic Help

Abuse survivor’s need to be treated in a safe environment with a therapist who they like and trust. A therapist should never push them to talk about the abuse. They need to be allowed to recall the abuse at a pace that feels safest for them. Dealing with issues of abuse can cause some very intense feelings, which can cause the eating disorder to go out of control. It is during these times that the person will probably need more emotional support to get through it. If their health is at risk, there may be a need for hospitalisation. It is important that the person is reassured that it is okay to talk about the abuse. If the person finds it too difficult to express themselves verbally, writing is a good way for them to express what happened and how they are feeling.

Dealing with memories of abuse can be very painful and difficult. At times you may feel like you are reliving the abuse. If your memories are flooding back and you feel like you are re-experiencing the abuse, you may feel like you are going crazy and want to die. You will probably want to isolate yourself and not talk to anyone. It is during this time that you need to reach out to someone, especially if you have thoughts of harming yourself or if you are suicidal. It could be a family member, friend, therapist, clergyman, or anyone that you trust. It is better to have someone to talk to and help your through it, rather than having to experience the feelings, emotions and pain all alone. Having someone to turn to and support you will help you feel less alone and make the difficult times a little easier to get through.

 If you have been sexually abused or are being abused, please contact me and I will either give you the help you need, or I will find the help you need.

Sexual Abuse of Children

What Is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse has many forms. It can be so subtle that a child may not know what is happening, just that he or she is uncomfortable with it. It can be verbal, physical or emotional, just like any other form of abuse. Sexual abuse includes:

Sexual abuse involves forcing, tricking, bribing, threatening or pressuring a child into sexual awareness or activity. Sexual abuse occurs when an older or more knowledgeable child or an adult uses a child for sexual pleasure. The abuse often begins gradually and increases over time.

The use of physical force is rarely necessary to engage a child in sexual activity because children are trusting and dependent. They want to please others and gain love and approval. Children are taught not to question authority and they believe that adults are always right. Perpetrators of child sexual abuse know this and take advantage of these vulnerabilities in children. Sexual abuse is an abuse of power over a child and a violation of a child's right to normal, healthy, trusting relationships.

Child sexual abuse is legally defined as " all inappropriate sexual activity between an adult and a child". Now we know what it is, how do we prevent it?

Tips for Parents

As parents there is no way we can completely protect our children from sexual abuse but there are some ways we can lessen the chance it could occur. Unfortunately, just teaching our children not to talk to strangers or unusual people is not enough. In fact approximately 85% of sexual offenders are known to the child and 50% are parent figures. Here are some tips I have compiled from various sources on how to prevent child sexual abuse:

 On this page:       
       Sexual Abuse of Children                       What to do if you are Raped

Self-help after Rape    Preventing Date and Acquaintance Rape    

What if no doesn’t work          Myths of Male Sexual Abuse   
Therapeutic Help

Links to other pages in this site:             
Depression       Phobias and Fears   Physical and Emotional Abuse     Panic Attacks and Anxiety     Eating Disorders   Alcohol Problems    
                        Drug Addiction                    Low Self-esteem

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