Accessibility: A A A Colour Black and White

Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

There are many types of sexual abuse. Some victims may not even realise that they’ve experienced sexual abuse unless they become educated about the different forms of this violent act. Any type of nonconsensual sexual activity or contact qualifies as sexual abuse, including:

  • Rape
  • Date rape
  • Attempted rape
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Sexual harassment

Any sexual act or contact that makes someone feel uncomfortable, afraid, or intimidated could fall in the category of sexual abuse.

Sexual exploitation is the sexual abuse of an adult in exchange for attention, affection, food, drugs, shelter, protection, other basic necessities and/or money, and could be part of a seemingly consensual relationship.

The person being exploited may believe their abuser is their friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. The abuser may:

  • Physically or verbally threaten the victim
  • Take indecent photographs of them and circulate to others and be violent towards them
  • Try to isolate them from friends and family.

Possible signs of sexual exploitation include; unexpected or unexplained changes in behaviour, sudden withdrawal from social activities, cutting off ties with friends and family, fixation with a new mobile phone and a desire to hide who they are talking to. There may also be signs of sexual abuse, such as bruising, injury or sexually transmitted diseases. Often people who are being sexually exploited are unaware that they are victims of such abuse.

Sexual abuse

Types of sexual abuse

  • Rape, attempted rape or sexual assault
  • Inappropriate touch anywhere
  • Non- consensual masturbation of either or both persons
  • Non- consensual sexual penetration or attempted penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth
  • Any sexual activity that the person lacks the capacity to consent to
  • Inappropriate looking, sexual teasing or innuendo or sexual harassment
  • Sexual photography or forced use of pornography or witnessing of sexual acts
  • Indecent exposure

Possible indicators of sexual abuse

  • Bruising, particularly to the thighs, buttocks and upper arms and marks on the neck
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Bleeding, pain or itching in the genital area
  • Unusual difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Foreign bodies in genital or rectal openings
  • Infections, unexplained genital discharge, or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy in a woman who is unable to consent to sexual intercourse
  • The uncharacteristic use of explicit sexual language or significant changes in sexual behaviour or attitude
  • Incontinence not related to any medical diagnosis
  • Self-harming
  • Poor concentration, withdrawal, sleep disturbance
  • Excessive fear/apprehension of, or withdrawal from, relationships
  • Fear of receiving help with personal care
  • Reluctance to be alone with a particular person

Rape and Sexual Assault (RASA)

RASA is here for anyone who has been sexually abused or raped, or who has been affected by sexual violence at any time in their lives.  They have particular experience in working with adults who have been sexually abused as children. They offer emotional support, counselling, advocacy and other services to help survivors in ways that work for them.   They will also work with non-offending family and friends of survivors.

RASA advocacy (ISVA) specialists have all undergone additional training to perform this role.  They will listen without judgement. They will believe you without question. They are here to support you.  They offer support regardless of age or gender, and they work with both adults, and children from the age of three years.  All their staff and volunteers are women, and maintain women-only spaces within their service because they recognise that many survivors need these spaces to feel safe, begin to empower themselves and regain control of their lives.

RASA began supporting survivors in Merseyside in 1986, and since then they have supported many thousands of people from different backgrounds who have experienced sexual violence.  They know that while there are patterns of common ground, every survivor’s experience is unique. They know that sexual violence has a deep and significant impact but also know that people affected by sexual violence can overcome this impact and move on with their lives.

Please click on the link below for more information.


Help after Rape and Sexual Assault (NHS Choices)

Merseyside Police

Sexual Violence & Exploitation

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence includes rape, which is sexual intercourse without consent whether or not violence or force is used. Using drugs, threats, or any other pressure to force someone into intercourse is also rape. However, sexual violence also includes non-penetrative sexual activity without consent or against the victim’s wishes. The victim may be male or female, adult or child.

Support and advice

We have specially trained officers who are experienced in investigating sexual assaults in the most sensitive way.

They understand the incredible difficulty that victims often have in talking about what happened. We also have a specially trained Witness Care Unit to support people through their court appearance and keep them advised about progress in their case.

  • If you have been the victim of rape or serious sexual assault, you should go as quickly as you can to somewhere you can be with a friend or relative, and will feel safe
  • You don’t have to report the assault. Only you can decide whether you want to. However, unless you’re certain that you don’t want to report it you should remember that the sooner you come along to our Referral Centre the better our chances of gathering good forensic evidence. If you want, you can bring a friend along for support. The centre can store the results until you decide what you want to do next
  • If you do want to preserve as much evidence as possible, there are some things it’s best not to do before visiting the Referral Centre. Try not to wash or brush your teeth, eat, drink or smoke, go to the toilet, wash any of the clothes you were wearing or clear up the room or the ground where the assault took place. Don’t worry, though, if you’ve already done any of these things or feel you have to do them before you come in
  • Whether or not you decide to go ahead with prosecution, you should get medical attention for any injuries. You may also need emergency contraception, and you should be checked for sexually transmitted infections
  • There are no grey areas when it comes to the issue of consent. A helpful video has been made to break it down.
  • You can call a Rape Crisis Centre for support. They can offer specialist counselling either by phone or in person
  • ‘kNOw that NO means NO’

We have created a website including information, advice, support links and messages dispelling common misconceptions around sexual assault.

How to report sexual violence

If you have been sexually assaulted, you should dial 999 as soon as possible after the attack.

Safe Place Merseyside

SAFE Place Merseyside logo

SAFE Place Merseyside is the Sexual Assault Referral Centre for the Merseyside area

It is a joint venture supported by the Home Office, Merseyside Police, Liverpool CitySafe Partnership, Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, Merseyside NHS Primary Care Trusts and Local Authorities.

SAFE Place offer a service for both males and females who have been sexually assaulted both recently and at any time in the past.

They have staff who are highly-trained healthcare professionals who can support you at their centre in Liverpool City Centre.

They operate a policy of strictest client confidentiality and are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

For more information visit their website.

The CSE Social Media Library has a range of descriptions, advice and guidance about on line websites, please click below:

CSE Social Media Library

Find Support in Knowsley

Find Support In Liverpool

Find Support in Sefton

Find Support in Wirral


Prevention Information Sheet-Sexual Abuse and Exploitation