Sexual abuse of children is an abuse of power and trust and can be perpetrated by an adult or older child.
‘Grooming’ of a child or young person is a common practice by abusers, who will go all out to gain trust. They will invest time and often buy expensive gifts and presents in order to pressurise someone into doing what they want. This can be anything from personal sexual acts to being photographed or even prostitution. Bribes and threats are used to ensure continued compliance.
The definition of consent is stipulated in The Sexual Offences Act 2003. A person consents if he or she agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. At the heart of this definition is the agreement by choice. The law does not require the victim to have resisted physically in order to prove lack of consent.
Sexual assault / rape
Sexual assault and rape often go unreported for fear of disbelief. If you are or have been a victim you can do several things:
Report it to the police
Talk to someone you can trust, perhaps a friend or family member, or contact you local Rape Crisis Centre (0808 802 9999)
Remember that it is not your fault; the fault lies with the person responsible for the assault.
If you feel unable to report an incident directly to the police, you can contact your local Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC); these operate a 24 hour service. (If you are unable to find a local centre, contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or go to their website). They aim to provide a free, one-stop service and support.