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Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity - whether that be rape, child sexual abuse, photography or unwanted touching. Ultimately, if you are pressured to do something sexual against your will, this is sexual abuse.

The line can be crossed even when two consenting adults are engaging in sexual activity, but one then feels pressured to do something they are not comfortable with. This might be something scary or degrading.

It is also common for perpetrators and victims to know each other. They might be a relative, a friend, someone in a position of authority or a previous partner. The perpetrator may take advantage of the victim not being able to consent, or use force.

Because many sexual abuse victims are frightened to report the abuse, or are groomed to trust their abuser, many do not report the acts or even feel responsible themselves. This is why it's important to know that whether you're an adult or a young person, it isn't your fault and you shouldn't be afraid to get help. Sexual abuse is a crime. 

What are the signs of sexual abuse?

  • Children may run away from home
  • Dropping clues and hints
  • Nightmares
  • Behaviour changes
  • Health problems such as sexually transmitted infections
  • Refusal to see a particular person
  • Problems at work or school, such as a drop in achievement
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Pregnancy
  • Attempted suicide
  • Development of an eating disorder

What are the effects of sexual abuse?

  • Immediate reactions may include shock, fear, disbelief
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Criminal behaviour
  • Self-harm

Can therapy help victims of sexual abuse?

Although immediate crisis assistance can help victims, therapy and counselling can also be helpful for people who have experienced sexual abuse. 
Psychological interventions for survivors can be effective - particularly group therapy. Some therapists also specialise in the trauma associated with sexual abuse. Other therapeutic approaches which have been found to be effective in some cases include Exposure Therapy, Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Whether you are a survivor or are wanting help in supporting a survivor, counselling (talking therapy) could also help. It can be very difficult to talk about sexual abuse, but many survivors find that it can help them to let go of the past.

Useful resources for sexual abuse and assault


The Hope Street Centre is an independent centre located in the attractive rural market town of Sandbach in South Cheshire, with easy access to the M6 motorway and the railway network at Crewe.  The centre is readily accessible from the neighbouring towns of Congleton, Alsager, Middlewich, Holmes Chapel, Knutsford, Crewe, Kidsgrove, Winsford, Northwich, Warrington and Stoke on Trent.

Our Address: 10 Hope Street, SANDBACH, Cheshire, CW11 1BA
Telephone:      01270 764003