PARAGON works with victims of domestic abuse where sexual abuse and coercion have been used as a control tactic by a perpetrator. We also have a team of specialists at STAR (Sexual Trauma And Recovery) Counselling that works with all victims of sexual violence and abuse. Whether this is current or historic please get in touch with our team.
First and foremost, we want to say that is never the fault of the victim. Never. Responsibility will always remain with the perpetrator. The public narrative is confusing and conflicting with so many comments putting the pressure on women to keep themselves safe.
What is sexual violence
Sexual violence and abuse tend to be interchangeable terms which can be confusing because not all sexual abuse or coercion is violent. But they are all unwanted acts.
The women we work with have told us that sometimes unwanted kissing didn’t seem too bad. But that led to pressure to carry out unwanted sexual acts, then the unwanted kissing felt very different. It was unwanted, abusive and completely negated their wishes. The kissing could take place in public, in front of family and children or friends and felt wrong. They felt trapped and that it was them making the ‘scene’ if they tried to pull away. People did not understand that the kisses were an act of coercion and control.
Sexual violence, abuse and coercion is any unwanted act, regardless of sex or gender. It includes rape or attempted rape, refusal to allow birth control, not using condoms and engaging in unsafe sex. Forcing a person to take part in sexual activities in exchange for something, which could be money, food, clothing.
It can also be about threatening to ‘out’ someone if they don’t engage in sexual acts and using sexual insults.
Impact of sexual violence
For some victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence is a regular part of their life and each person will react individually. However, we know that many victims feel ashamed and embarrassed, and when you are abused by a person who you trust there is confusion and turmoil.
Some people have said they felt numb, shocked, and in disbelief. They may have flashbacks and relieve the incident, have trouble sleeping, and have regular nightmares.