What Are the Different Forms of Sexual Abuse?

Published on April 23, 2024, by Forbes Law Offices | Sexual Abuse Cases

What are the different forms of sexual abuse?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are millions of individuals subjected to sexual violence each year in the U.S. Data compiled by the non-profit Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) suggests that at least 463,634 of those annual victims belong to the 12 and older age group.

While the classification of different acts can vary depending on the person, most would consider sexual abuse to fall into the “violence” category described above.

Thus, if you’re wondering what are the different forms of sexual abuse, we’ll do our best to outline what qualifies as this below.

Understanding What Qualifies as Abusive

Many individuals often think that someone’s actions have to be physically violent to also qualify as abusive, but that’s just not the case. Abuse, even of the sexual variety, can take on many shapes and forms.

It can be one of the following, for example:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Verbal
  • Financially exploitative

While these different types of abuse can happen independently of each other, it’s not uncommon for them to co-occur.

Defining Sexual Abuse

If you’re seeking a list of sexually abusive acts, it would include the following:

  • The electronic dissemination of sexually oriented material like filming another person without their consent, deep fake or revenge porn, sexting, or child pornography
  • Verbal or physical sexual harassment
  • Child molestation, including incest
  • Human trafficking
  • Someone subjecting you to “indecent exposure”
  • Threats of or actual sexual assaults, including rape

In the case of the latter, statutory rape, whereby one of the involved parties is under 16, the age of consent in West Virginia, would also qualify as sexual abuse.

There are certainly many other actions individuals may engage in that constitute sexual abuse. The “common denominator” in these scenarios is that these acts are unwanted and occur without the consent of at least one of the other parties involved.

Connecting Certain Types of Sexual Acts and Broader Categories of Abuse

Above, we mentioned different categories of abuse and different sexual acts but didn’t clarify how one relates to another, so we want to make that connection clearer.

What Physical Sexual Abuse Is Like

We’ve found that most people think of aggressive, forceful, or violent acts when tasked with defining what physical sexual abuse may look like. Thus, oral sex or intercourse may qualify as this. This category may also include unwanted touching since it involves person-to-person physical contact.

What Financially Exploitative Sex Acts May Consist Of

Forcing someone to perform sexual acts for some kind of monetary gain (for someone else other than themselves) is financially exploitative.

Anyone forced into prostitution, someone who has explicit photographs or videos of them circulated for financial gain, or is taken by a human trafficker and, unsuspectingly to them, has their comings and goings restricted and is forced to perform sex acts on others, all may be deemed to have been sexually abused for the perpetrator’s financial benefit.

What Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Sex Acts Consist Of

Emotional and verbal abuse often go hand-in-hand with each other. While some perpetrators of abuse will initiate their bad acts without warning, others will groom their victims or progressively engage in questionable behavior, with their bad acts getting worse over time.

For example, it’s not uncommon for a sexual abuser to initially make inappropriate sexual comments around their victims. Others may come right out of the gate and threaten to commit certain sexual acts against their target.

How Sexual Abuse Impacts Victims

This type of abuse can affect victims in more ways than one. Some of the most common ways we’ve identified that it does include:

  • Verbalizations of threats of unwanted sexual violence often play in the minds of victims, affecting their sleep and causing them to be anxious about impending harm coming their way.
  • The unwanted sexual contact victims endured may make them increasingly socially withdrawn, not easily trusting others, and lead them down a path toward substance abuse or developing other addictions to help them cope with the loss of autonomy over their physical bodies that they experienced.
  • Individuals who’ve been sexually exploited for someone else’s financial gain may not only experience some of the symptoms described above but also develop some degree of paranoia that inappropriate imagery of them is out there and has been seen by everyone or experience self-esteem issues due to having lost control over their choice to use their own body as they saw fit.

Do you remember how we discussed that the common denominator between acts that would qualify as sexually abusive is that they involve victims being forced to do things they don’t consent to?

Another one of those commonalities among these types of acts is that, while the specific impact they leave behind may vary by person and what exactly they went through, behavioral and psychological or mental health are common “after effects” left behind by sexual abuse.

Getting Help If Someone Sexually Abused You

Our focus at Forbes Law Offices has always been on representing individuals who have been hurt by other people’s actions. Our work with sexual abuse victims is a big part of that.

Two main driving forces motivate us to hold responsible parties accountable for the harm they inflict on others. One is that we want to minimize the chances of the perpetrator of the bad acts repeating the same thing against you or anyone else.

Second, we want to ensure that you can recover adequate compensation to receive the best quality care to help you cope with what you’ve been through and thrive once again.

Our attorneys have been instrumental in agitating change in the statute of limitations that applies to child sexual abuse victims filing cases. However, filing windows applicable to adult sexual abuse cases in West Virginia are still fairly short. Given how there are deadlines, it’s critical that you reach out for our lawyers’ assistance as soon as possible for the best outcome in your case.

Our attorneys don’t charge anything to get to work on your case for you.