Can anyone explain how there would not be sexual abuse in societies that are hyper-sexualized? Sex is meant to be the most private, intimate and precious means of communication or expression between two loving individuals, wouldn’t you agree? And, isn’t it obvious that society is commodifying sex? Sex is used to sell all manner of unrelated goods—used just to catch attention. It not only turns persons into objects, but it objectifies parts of female and male anatomies—separate indeed from their personhood.
Instead of sex expressing love, sex has often come to express lust or power—especially when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is said of the hook-up culture: “Boys use love to get sex; girls use sex to get love.” Something seems to have gotten turned around.
A rather small percentage of Americans are virgins when they marry—although the Center for Disease Control says virginity rates are rising since 2002 (Elizabeth Lopatto, 2011, Mar. 3, “No sex for almost 30% of Americans as virginity jumps,” Bloomberg, accessed 1April15). Among some strict religious populations, the percentage of virgins until marriage is as high as 20%. Still, regardless of the reality, according to a Harris poll, about half the population, think couples should hold off on sex until marriage (Charlotte Alter, 2014, June 4, “Millennial Brides Don’t Want to Where White,” Time, accessed 1April15). In such a society, and with such a complex issue, it is important that we openly discuss what can go wrong in the way sex is handled.
also referred to as molestation. (It) is forcing undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault….Spousal sexual abuse is a form of domestic violence….Sexual misconduct can occur where one person uses a position of authority to compel another person to engage in an otherwise unwanted sexual activity.
Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they really don’t want to do. It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms….Some think that if the victim didn’t resist, that it doesn’t count as abuse. That’s not true. It still is. This myth is hurtful because it makes it more difficult for the victim to speak out and more likely they will blame themselves.
Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear “yes” or “no”
Threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity
Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex or perform sexual acts
Repeatedly using sexual insults toward someone.
Most victims of sexual abuse know their abusers. Both men and women can be perpetrators of sexual abuse, and both can be its victims. Sexual abuse can take place in both opposite-sex and same-sex situations. And it can occur between married partners.
There has been too little active advice and encouragement given to victims of sexual abuse. It needs to be made clear that victims should not let attacks go unreported. The first step for a victim of sexual abuse should be to contact someone she or he can trust. Sexual abuse should also be reported to the police. It is most important that a person who has suffered a sexual assault get to an Emergency Room or Health Clinic. There, evidence can be gathered, injuries repaired, and medications given to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
What brings you to this topic? What is your concern? Have you shared this concern with someone you can trust?
Do you agree with the importance of this issue? Do you agree with the introduction to this Overview? Does putting some responsibility systemically on our society reduce the blame and responsibility of sexual abusers?
What suggestions or criticisms do you have of this article? How would you write it, and what else would you include?
If you are a person of faith, how does your faith affect your ideas about sex and sexual abuse?
What can we all do to reduce the distortion of sex in our society?
How can we better socialize and educate to deter people taking power over those who are weaker or in a vulnerable state?
The year 2014 seemed to display an epidemic of sexual assaults, especially upon women on college campuses and in the military. If one in five women experience such assaults in college years, manifold strategies must be employed, including training for potential perpetrators and bystanders.
All tendencies to blame or shame the victim must be reversed. Police, hospitals, and especially college and military administrators must respond to victims more effectively.
Leaders and educators, especially, need to have an awareness of how many secretly endure post-traumatic stress from sexual assaults.
Churches and religious organizations must not avoid this issue but need to play a part in education and appropriate means of healing and growth.
A rethinking of the meaning of sex is an important part of this social malady.