Information for Youth 12 -18

What is child sexual assault – sexual abuse? 

It is where someone touches you or makes you touch them in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. It could be when someone older than you touches your penis/vagina (private parts) in a way that makes you feel uneasy.

It could also be when someone older than you makes you touch their penis/vagina (private parts), or when they show you sexual pictures or movies that make you feel uncomfortable.

If you are in immediate danger call the Police on 111.


What kinds of things are sexual abuse?


Everyone has the right to feel safe all the time. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, then it could be sexual abuse.

So, what might be happening? It could involve:

What can I do if this is happening to me?

 There are laws to protect everyone from sexual assault – sexual abuse. There are lots of things that you can do if someone is touching you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. One of the most powerful things you can do is tell an adult who you trust about what is happening.

Remember – if the person you tell first doesn’t do anything keep on telling until someone else does.


Who can I tell?

Sometimes it is hard to tell someone in your family if it is someone close to you that is touching you. The law protects you from sexual assault – sexual abuse from people in your family as well as from everyone else. It is not OK for someone in your family to touch you in a sexual way.

Here is a list of people you could tell:

Your mum

Your aunty

Your favourite teacher

Your health nurse

Your best friend’s mother

School Guidance Counsellor

Somebody at any agency near you

Child Youth and Family Service

Your doctor

The Police (phone 111)

Remember – you might need to tell more than one of these people if the first person you tell doesn’t do anything.


What happens if I tell?

The adults you tell should help by trying to make the abuse stop. Adults can call an agency in your area to find out what they can do about it. It is their job to protect you.

Here is an example of what would happen if you told someone about what was happening to you:


What are the effects?


The effects of sexual abuse can vary a great deal. You could be reminded of the abuse in many different ways and at different times, and often this might feel out of your control. Even if you have access to help that you find supportive, it will not take the past away, but may lessen the long term negative effects and help you to develop more coping skills. Choose someone you feel completely comfortable with, who respects you and listens to you, to help you through this very difficult time.



The abuse may have been perpetrated by someone you knew, making you feel unsure and afraid of trusting anyone again.


Poor self-perception

Your self-esteem or view of yourself may have changed, and would be different to that of someone who has not experienced such trauma. You may feel really bad and lose confidence in yourself.


Nightmares or flashbacks

It is common to experience nightmares, and for memories of what happened to come at unpredictable times. Things such as places, smells, rooms, or clothes can remind you or trigger memories of the abuse.

Sexual abuse also puts people at risk of sexually transmitted infections, and for girls, an unwanted pregnancy.


What am I feeling?

As there can be so many effects from sexual abuse, you can have a difficult time emotionally dealing with so much at once. You may believe that the abuse has not affected you, but then you might feel emotions that you can't explain, or have sudden mood swings.



You may have felt a very strong sense of fear at the time of the abuse because of the abuser.

You may not have spoken out in order to protect yourself, fearing that you would be at more risk if the abuser found out that you reported it or told someone.



You may feel angry toward the abuser who has done this to you.

You may feel angry toward yourself, thinking that you should have been able to stop it from happening.



Although many people experience sexual abuse, it is common to feel alone and isolated since most people do not talk about it.

Knowing that there are other people you can relate to may help you to not feel so isolated.



You may feel sad about the invasion into your privacy, and for the loss of your rights.



Guilt is a terrible emotion to feel during or after a sexually abusive situation, and must be reversed.

The abuser should feel guilty, not you. Abuse of any form is about power, not about sex.

If you are feeling guilty, then the abuse will still be living strongly within you and it is important to change this. A counsellor may be able to help, and a good friend can be helpful too.



With all those emotions, it might be fair to feel confused. If the abuser was someone you were once close to, you may even still feel love for them, or not know what to think.

Do not be hard on yourself for feeling confused. Remember, you are a survivor.


What if I felt aroused? 

Some young people worry because their bodies may appear to become sexually aroused by what is happening to them, even though it frightens them. This is a physical reaction and it is your body's way of coping with the situation. This does not mean that you wanted or enjoyed the abuse.