Sexual abuse

Physical and emotional changes are part of being a teenager. Some of your friends may be talking about sexual activity and you may have some thoughts and questions about sex yourself. At the same time, you want to maintain the values that your family shares.

It’s also a time when some teens become involved in relationships with each other. It’s important to be aware of your choices and the consequences. (For more information, see physical health).

Forcing, pressuring or tricking a person to do sexual things, or touching a person’s body for a sexual purpose without permission, are examples of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a crime - even when it takes place on a date, in a relationship or between spouses.

It’s also a crime for a person who is in a position of trust over you to use you for a sexual purpose, in any circumstances. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, older brothers and sisters, other adult family members and their friends are likely to be in a position of trust with respect to you. It’s against the law for them to engage in any sexual activity with you. Just because you or they say the sexual activity is OK or it is kept quiet does not mean it is legal.

When sexual abuse happens in a family, the abuser will often make threats and say that everything must be kept secret or someone will get hurt. The abuser may also make you feel responsible for what has happened. But sexual abuse is never the fault of the person being abused.

If you have experienced sexual abuse, you may feel afraid and ashamed. You may be angry at other people in the family for not protecting you. Although your trust in others may be affected, you should seek help immediately.