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The 4 differences between rape and sexual abuse

The 4 differences between rape and sexual abuse

April 30, 2024

The existence of sexual abuse and aggressions is unfortunately a reality even to this day. It is not uncommon for us to be able to read the news or read in a newspaper the occurrence of a case.

When we talk about these phenomena, we frequently use terms such as sexual abuse or rape, using them as synonyms. However, in reality both concepts do not necessarily imply the same thing. In this article we will see what they are The main differences between rape and sexual abuse .

  • Related article: "The causes and effects of gender violence"

Rape and sexual abuse: conceptualizing

Both rape and sexual abuse they are both sexual crimes typified and punishable by law , which can cause their victims great damages and physical and psychological, temporary or permanent consequences.


In both cases they are observed sexual behavior and aggressive that are carried out without one of the parties consent. The psychological effects that the experience of this type of acts has are far reaching in time.

This happens in both cases, can generate feelings of helplessness (the victim has been attacked or someone he trusted has taken advantage of them), decreased self-esteem and may even generate disorders such as post-traumatic stress, personality changes, distrust and suspicion towards others, alterations of affective bonding and sexuality, anxiety or depression or suicide attempts, among others.


While rape could be considered a type of sexual abuse, and is often identified as such, there are differences. In fact, the truth is that usually it is not identified as such but rather as sexual assault. To see the differences clearer, it is first necessary to define each of the terms first.

Violation

It is understood as rape the performance of intercourse or sexual act carried out by force or intimidation , not allowing one of the parties involved or not having the means to be able to consent (for example, for having been supplied with drugs or for being in an altered state of consciousness).

In addition, the concept of violation supposes the existence of penetration , this can be vaginal, anal or oral. In the first two, it is not necessary for the aggressor to use the genitals, being also rape when penetrating with other parts of the body or even objects.


In general, rape occurs through the use of violence, being an act of sexual assault in which physical contact occurs . The target of the attacker can be multiple, not specifying that it is to obtain sexual gratification. In fact, often the aggressor seeks to satisfy his need for power independently, using sex as an element of domination of the victim.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse refers to any act carried out by one or more persons and involving the limitation of sexual freedom of another or others without the latter consent or can / have the capacity to consent. As an abuse, it requires that the attacking party make use of some characteristic, power or situation that puts his victim at a disadvantage. Physical violence is not used (in which case we would be facing sexual assault), but the abuser uses manipulation, deception, surprise or even coercion to achieve your goals.

There are many acts that involve sexual abuse: touching, masturbation, harassment, forcing someone to observe the performance of sexual activities or forcing the victim to show their body using a position of superiority are examples of this. The most prototypical are the touching. Some paraphilias like the frotismo or the exhibitionism they could be considered as such.

Also included as sexual abuse is the fact carry out forced activities or against the will of the affected party even when you have agreed to have sexual relations voluntarily. For example, stealthing would be categorized and punishable as sexual abuse.

  • Related article: "The 11 types of violence (and the different kinds of aggression)"

Main differences between rape and sexual abuse

Although related, sexual abuse and rape do not imply the same, there being some key differences between them. Below are some of them.

1. Use of physical violence

The main difference that distinguishes both concepts is the presence or absence of physical violence and intimidation , understanding physical violence as actions aimed at preventing the movements of the other person or causing pain and injury.

In sexual abuse Force or physical violence is not necessarily used to subject the abused person (although it may appear in some cases). For example, persuasion or ignorance of what is happening can be used (this is what happens in most cases of child sexual abuse or disabled).

However, in the case of rape, such as sexual assault, the use of force, intimidation or the use of force is generally employed. substances that put the victim in a situation of vulnerability by not being able to consent or deny or diminish their state of consciousness.

2. Existence of forced penetration

In addition to whether or not violence appears, one of the main characteristics of the violation is that it necessarily includes penetration or carnal access (either with body parts or objects) forced or induced against the will of the aggrieved party .

In sexual abuse, however, there is no need for penetration. As we have said, it is considered as such any act that coerces sexual freedom through means other than physical violence, not being necessary for it necessary that there is a physical contact between both subjects or that if it occurs is carried out with the intention to consummate the sexual act.

However, it must be taken into account that sexual relations can be maintained and considered abuse if what mediates is not violence but manipulation or the use of superiority , as in rape (in this case it is still considered abuse even if the victim is conscious).

3. Perception of the facts

Another clear difference is given to the victims' perception of the facts. The victim of rape is almost always aware of what is happening and that he has suffered an aggression from the moment it occurs (unless we are talking about a case in which substances that alter consciousness have been used). Although in many cases they do not do it out of fear or other circumstances, they are usually aware that they have been victims of a crime and that they should report or explain it to someone.

However, although in many cases of sexual abuse the victim is aware of being abused, in many others it may not be.

It is also possible that you do not live initially as something adverse, not knowing what it implies or the seriousness of the facts. That is precisely what happens in some cases of sexual abuse of minors in which initially the minor can believe that it is a secret game between the abuser and him, not being aware of what actually happened until much later.

  • Related article: "Differences between pedophilia and pederasty"

4. Penalties imposed

Both types of crime are serious and punishable by law, but we usually find that acts of sexual assault are more punishable than those of abuse . For example, rape is punishable by between six and twelve years in prison (extendable if certain aggravating circumstances occur).

In sexual abuse the penalty to apply will vary greatly according to the type of act performed. In the event that there is sexual intercourse or some type of penetration the penalties will oscillate between four and ten years.

Violence through domination and sex

It should be noted that both violations and sexual abuse can be understood as the result of serious behavioral problems and adaptation to society, which relates these actions to paraphilia. Attackers are people who express their violent impulses and their search for the domination of others through violence and manipulation.

But nevertheless, that does not mean that its causes are neurological : many times, these disorders appear as a consequence of a deficient socialization process.


Men Need To Talk About Their Sexual Abuse | Seth Shelley | TEDxUNBC (April 2024).


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