chapter
Sexual Abuse
Pages 35

Nominally a sexual act, sexual abuse occurs when the intent of the act is harmful or the meaning behind it has a harming effect on a partner, or when such a situation “must be kept secret.” Abuse may be overt (openly sexual and transparent), as in rape, certain forms of incest, or sex with an inebriated person; or covert (the sexual nature of the activity disguised as nonsexual), as in verbal or emotional abuse of a sexual nature or seduction of a child. The effects of sexual abuse are multiple and may be lifelong: physical (bodily injury, dissociative response, a sense that one is not in charge of his or her body), mental (one’s thoughts and perceptions are not to be trusted, heightened sense of paranoia, development of personality disorders, development of victim or offender mentality), emotional (increased sense of fear, guilt, shame, profound loneliness, omnipresent anger), behavioral (self-mutilation, addictive disorders, abusive relationships, sexual problems), and spiritual.