Sexual violence An epidemic that does not stop growing.

Sexual violence

Sexual violence? It won’t happen to me.

History repeats itself over and over again. The vast majority of rape victims , for example, when they manage to put their thoughts back together, confess that they never thought it would happen to them.

As much as the issues of sexual violence are on the table, because it has been possible to sensitize and convince the victims that silence solves nothing, the truth is that most women think that it will not happen to them.

But sexual violence is a much broader concept than the problem of rape, whether it occurs within or outside the family environment.

Sexual violence includes horrors such as sexual abuse in general and sexual abuse of children in particular, advances and sexual harassment in schools or in the workplace, sexual slavery and pimping, forced marriage, abuse of people with disabilities, whether physical or mental.

Why is it so difficult to fight? How can it be that despite the fact that victims are increasingly encouraged to report and the media contribute to making the problem visible, the figures are still alarming?

Too many questions that we will try to answer by expanding information, some opinion and some statistics on the subject.

Definition of sexual violence.

The legal concept of sexual violence is highly variable and depends largely on the social and cultural context of the country. In 2011, the World Health Organization met in Geneva to address the issue and left us a definition of sexual violence that can be a good starting point:

It is considered sexual violence to

“Any sexual act, the attempt to commit a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or innuendo, or actions to commercialize or otherwise use a person’s sexuality through coercion by another person, regardless of their relationship with the victim, in any setting, including the home and the workplace ”. (WHO. 2011).

The key word to understand this concept may be “submission”. That is: subjecting a person to sexual acts against their will, whether the act has been completely committed or not.

This WHO definition goes beyond performing sexual acts against a person’s will. It also includes attempts to associate a person with sexual acts without the latter understanding the nature or conditions of the act.

It also considers that if the victim cannot refuse to participate or cannot express her refusal because she is drunk, drugged, asleep or mentally incapacitated or because of intimidation or pressure) it is considered an act of sexual violence .

(1) – Stop sexual assaults that do not stop growing

Sexual violence as an expression of power.

The truth is that any form of sexual violence (we will review or classify them later) violates fundamental human rights, in particular the physical and psychological integrity of the victim.

All forms of sexual abuse , especially the sexual abuse of children , is the expression of the will to power of the perpetrator who wants to subjugate the victim.

The perpetrator of a sexual assault is and should be held responsible as “the perpetrator” regardless of the circumstances of the sexual violence, even if the victim does not perceive it as such.

What do we mean? To those situations that undoubtedly must be the most censored and that produce the greatest rejection: those parents or grandparents who abuse their own daughters or granddaughters from a very early age so that the little victims naturalize the facts taking as valid the arguments they wield. abusers.

We also include here sexual acts performed on disabled people, who may not be aware of the abuse to which they are subjected.

Consequences of sexual violence.

The dimensions of the impact of sexual violence are terrible, not only because of the act itself, but also because of the consequences and the time during which they affect the victim, and can even last throughout their life.

Even worse: these consequences can mean that when the victim is a child, they become aggressors when they reach adulthood.

But it is a fact: the consequences for victims, regardless of the form of sexual violence , are significant, numerous and long-lasting.

Just to mention a few, we note that these include day and night terrors, anxiety, sleep and / or eating disorders, intense fears, guilt, depression, isolation, risky or aggressive behaviors.

It is difficult to know what or what the consequences will be in each case, because each situation of sexual abuse is different in many aspects: age, circumstances, how long it has lasted.

What is clear is that victims must report and ask for help. Moreover, helping victims to take that first step is to open the door to assume the beginning of a process of healing and reparation (within what is possible) in each case.

Various forms of sexual violence.

Sexual violence can take many forms, some brutal and overt, others more subtle, but just as perverse.


We tend to identify sexual violence with rape, the most typical form being when it occurs by an unknown aggressor who assaults his victim in a dimly lit street and where he carries out his task using physical force or threat with weapons.

Sexual abuse of children.

Sexual abuse of children.

Likewise, we are clear that pedophilia and sexual abuse of children is a clear form of sexual violence, which produces a special disgust as it is directed towards the smallest and most defenseless.

(2) – Sexual abuse in childhood is another form of violence

But, in real life there are other forms of sexual violence that do not respond to these stereotypes.

To begin any sexual act (touching, caressing, penetrating, etc.) committed with violence, coercion or threat is included, and also prohibited by law and penalized


Coercion presupposes the existence of physical or psychological pressures, which seek to bend the will of the victim. Sometimes coercion can take the form of persuasion.

The most obvious form of coercion is threats. In general, they are clearly announced by the perpetrator in the form of retaliation if the victim refuses.

Death threats to relatives are one of the forms most used by mafias to force migrant women into prostitution.

Forced marriages.

In many countries forced marriages still survive, where a generally older man pays a sum of money to the parents of a girl, to marry her, against her will.

More than half of the cases of these marriages occur in Asia and in countries of the Pacific area. In India more than twelve million girls between the ages of eleven and eighteen are married. More than one sixth of them are under 14 years of age.

The consequences of forced child marriages are terrible: school dropouts, family uprooting, sexual abuse, early abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection, not to mention the terrible psychological consequences.

In the opinion of Doreen Reddy, who works at the Vicente Ferrer Foundation , helping these girls:

“Child marriage is one of the most serious slavery symbols in the world. This prevents girls from growing up free, educating themselves and living ” . (Doreen Reddy. 2018).

Any non-consensual sexual act, even if the victim is under the influence of alcohol, substances, or drugs is considered sexual abuse .

And to make the scope of the aforementioned clear (” any non-consensual sexual act “) we are going to exemplify with some very everyday situations that unfortunately many women stoically tolerate simply because they do not perceive them for what they are: situations of sexual abuse .

(3) – Forced marriage in India

It’s sexual abuse when he …

  • he wants to continue the sexual act even when you ask him to stop.
  • touch your body in places or situations that make you uncomfortable, even in privacy.
  • manipulates and uses verbal coercion to get sex without understanding your reasons.
  • he removes the condom regardless of the consequences or how important it is to you to use it.
  • He poses the sexual act to you in terms of “it is your duty … because I support you ” (or for any other reason).

All this, of course, within a couple. But there are other aspects of sexual violence that it is important to make visible and analyze, for example, child sexual abuse .

Sexual abuse in childhood.

Sexual abuse in childhood.

Millions of children in the world are sexually abused. It is a fact as aberrant as it is frequent, which occurs mainly under two great circumstances: what is linked to the “business” (child prostitution) and those acts perpetrated by the figure of a pedophile, that is, an adult who only finds sexual satisfaction by abusing victims children.


A pedophile is an expert in camouflage, we are talking about a profile of an individual that is very difficult to detect, precisely because he knows how to disguise his pathology very well and because his “charming touch” is one of the main tools that bring them closer to their potential victims.

Let’s delve into this aspect of child sexual abuse , trying to get closer to the psychological profile of the pedophile, since identifying him in time will undoubtedly be the most effective way to prevent abuse on his part.

The etymological root of the term “pedophilia” is a good start: the word comes from the Greek and is made up of two roots: ” Paidós” , which means child and ” filia” , which means friendship. The etymological meaning of the word, therefore, leads to the expression “friendship for children.” And so far it would seem that the danger is not perceived.

Perhaps the word “pedophilia” is closer to defining the problem: it is made up of two radicals ” Paidós” (child) and ” eros” (sexual love). Clearly it is a more appropriate association to limit or define this monstrosity considered as a sexual perversion.

A pedophile is an aggressor who attacks children whom he uses as sexual objects or instruments of his own pleasure.

Child prostitution.

The serious reports, which are released by UNICEF and the UN, are chilling: millions of children are prostituted around the world. Child prostitution has become a lucrative activity resulting in the complete destruction of the child.

Millions of children end up in brothels in countries known as Thailand for sex tourism trips. But it is not necessary to go that far: in the western world America and Europe predators use the Internet as a hunting ground.

(4) – Sex tourism in Thailand

What is the consequence of all this? Children are raped and subjected, starved, tortured, burned with cigarettes and beaten when they try to defend themselves.

When they are no longer profitable or attractive to their predators, they are simply left to die or worse yet: they are profitable in a last act of capital cruelty as organ donors sold on the black market.

Myths and facts about sexual offenders.

Is it possible to determine the social and psychological characteristics of the aggressor and his relationship with the victims?

There are many myths surrounding the figure of sexual offenders. It is interesting in this sense, the data provided by a study carried out in 2013, by Dr. Lester Geovanny Benedith, where he addresses myths or false beliefs that are denied by his scientific and statistical study:


  • The aggressors are exclusively men, unable to control their sexual urges. The consumption of intoxicating beverages and narcotics explain child abuse, as well as family violence.
  • It is assumed that the person attacking is someone with mental, psychiatric or psychological disorders.
  • It is never the parents.
  • The aggressor is usually a person unknown to the victim.


  • Most of the time, but not always, the bullies are men.
  • Not only do they generally know when to control their sexual urges, but they are not incapable of doing so.
  • Drugs and alcoholic beverages are not the cause of abuse in most cases, although they certainly do affect the activation of aggressive behaviors.
  • The consumption of narcotics and alcohol allows the aggressor to have the license to do things that he would not do under normal conditions and then to say: “I don’t remember I was drugged or drunk.”
  • The aggressors do not have a single common psychological profile.
  • The bullies are almost always known, who have managed to gain the trust of the child (for example, teachers) and can be the parents, unfortunately.

Sexual violence in Spain.

Unfortunately, in Spain, the statistical figures follow the global trend: the increase in cases is alarming despite all the campaigns and prevention measures that governments and social organizations carry out everywhere. Let’s look at some data.


The headlines of a report presented by Spanish TV at the end of 2018, shared shocking facts and figures that speak for themselves of the dimension of the problem in Spain. Here is a brief review of them:

  • Cyber ​​sex crime and penetrative sexual abuse cases have doubled since 2012.
  • In Spain, there were 9,537 people who reported being victims of sexual crimes in 2017. Almost half of them (4,542) were minors, according to a report by the Ministry of the Interior on crimes against sexual freedom and indemnity.
  • The majority of victims of sexual crimes are women (three out of four cases). Only in one of the criminal typologies, that of child pornography, is this situation reversed in which 75% of victims are male children.

(5) – Women are the main victims of sexual violence

  • The main percentage of the aggressors are men.
  • The most frequent scene of acts of sexual abuse is the house and the surroundings.
  • More than 75% of crimes are clarified, a percentage that rises to more than 80% in rapes, corruption of minors and crimes related to prostitution.
  • Catalonia, Andalusia, Madrid, the n Community, Navarra, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands top the list of communities with the highest incidence of acts of sexual violence .
  • Almost 80% of the victims are Spanish compared to just over 20% of foreign nationality, among which Moroccans and British stand out.

Conclusions on sexual violence.

From these latest data and from the testimonies that are collected when talking with some victims, a fact emerges that in addition to being surprising: the greatest threat is nearby, at home … and it is produced by abusers in whom the victim trusts.

Families warn their sons and daughters from an early age of the dangers of “talking” with strangers. Currently, the child population is well advised to comply or be aware of these dangers. But what about in the known realm? How do you fight with what happens intramurally at home, or against what happens in an educational institution?

Experts point out that one of the main keys at all levels is simply to be vigilant. Victims give signals… subtle, but they do. Abusers, despite their chameleon ability, also make mistakes when displaying their enchanting skills.

From our place we invite that: to be attentive. Let our intuition do its job and never, but never look to the side when we become aware of a situation of sexual violence .

It depends on us.

Woman victim of sexual assault

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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