Updated: Sep 27, 2021
! TRIGGER WARNING !
Before I get straight into the blog, I would like to first attach relevant hotlines and websites for people who seek advice on sexual abuse amongst young people:
NSPCC HOTLINE- to report any child that you think may be experiencing sexual violence/abuse please call this number ASAP! 0808 800 5000 (24HOURS A DAY)
CHILDLINE- 0800 1111 (24 hours) childline.org.uk
Parents Advice Line: 020 7823 5430 (Mon-Tues, 10am-5pm) kidscape.org.uk
THE SURVIVORS TRUST HELPLINE (for survivors of sexual assault in childhood)
0808 801 0331 free from all landlines and mobiles Monday – Thursday 10:00-21:00 and Friday 10:00-18:00
I'm going to start with this. THERE ARE NO GREY AREAS WHEN IT COMES TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
I've really tried my best to mind my business on particular topics, especially as they form into trending topics on twitter and other socials.
However, as amazing as the awareness is, it can also be bittersweet as social media can be a bit of a playground of ignorance for some of the current discussion on sexual assault/ violence, which can just result in the conversations becoming bottomless and unsolved in some cases.
One thing I have realised is that a lot of people fail to understand just how broad sexual violence is, and how it can be manipulated and twisted into many different forms.
That is why it can become so easy for perpetrators to deny their actions because they, themselves have failed to understand just how serious their actions are.
One of the most important but underestimated foundations for understanding sexual assault on young people is pressure.
In order to understand how a child is manipulated into sexual relationships with older men/women, or even boys/girls within their age groups, it is imperative that we understand how much of impact pressure and impressionability can have on a young persons mind.
We need to understand how much of an influence pressure can have in the moments leading up to an assault, in order to understand how young people end up in situations where they are exposed to sexual assault and / or violence.
We need to understand the different circumstances in which a young person may be raised in, for example:
-Their relationship with authority figures, (if they have nurtured or manipulated by them)
-Sexual abuse in the past.
-Neglect from parents and/or isolation from extended family members
-Bullying in school
All these factors (as well as others) play a part to how vulnerable a child is as well as their level of emotional intelligence.
As well as this, these indicators influence the likeliness of a young person seeking for help/ trusting others. This is sadly something an experienced abuser can pick up on from just a few conversations with the young person.
An abuser will have the mental awareness to see exactly how much pressure needs to be applied before they can make the victim their puppet. It's a trial and error type of experiment for the abuser as they measure how much manipulation needs to be done in order for the child to feel immense amounts of pressure.
But before all this, the abuser has somehow gained the young persons trust. They have read the young person and has seen exactly what they need to do in order to become the 'trustworthy' authority figure, so that by the time they are ready to exploit the young person the victim feels they have no choice but to follow the authority figure. This is something that could take the abuser any amount of timeframe from months to years.
An abuser getting a young person to follow them through the actions of manipulation and applying pressure can never be a consensual act.
Abusers of young people are only allowing the victim to make decisions based on distorted/fake truths that THEY have presented. In order to cause deliberate isolation, removing the young persons trust from the world, and placing the trust into the hands of their abuser...
The ability to blame the victim for any sexual crime shouldn't be possible or humane. But unfortunately the world we live in is not fair. So we have to educate our fellow people instead and hope for the best.
In the UK as a society our education system has not prepared us to understand where different acts fall on the sexual assault spectrum and there is a lack of easily accessible support when it comes to sexual health for young people, and this is why the misinformation and reduced access to sexual clinics has caused young people to simply deal with sexual assault by themselves. These issues also affect our ability, as a society, to properly defend victims as a large majority of people are unaware that sexual assault goes right down 'invisible actions' or non contact acts, verbal assault and coercion. Further education about sexual assault can also help perpetrators understand when they are crossing lines and boundaries, as unfortunately some of us are are an extension of a backwards culture, where men are are viewed as sexually empowered beings, and therefore they are taught to believe that uncontrollable bit of their sexual being is 'in their nature as a man' and therefore this culture or way of thinking can prevent a young boy from teaching himself to control his sexual urges.
However this does not excuse the ability for young / adult women to also become perpetrators of sexual exploitation.
Everything in life comes down to your upbringing your environment, and events in your life that shape how you view people and situations.
These factors can affect a victims ability to properly confront his or her perpetrator, as in most situations there may be no clear understanding of what exactly has been done to them. They may be gaslighted, or forced to downplay their abuse. This could be due to to many different factors such as manipulation from the perpetrator to make the victim believe that what is happening to them is normal, or accepted. Another reason could be isolation from the outside world in situations of domestic sexual violence, or child sexual abuse. Which I explained in more detail above, but it still doesn't even touch the real life possibilities.
This type of manipulation can result in a victim ignoring what has happened to them, resulting in them depreciating the seriousness of the assault and therefore, never seeking help.
For example,(relating to picture displayed below):
During lockdown a young female came forward to expose an 'Instagram influencer' for putting his hand on her breast without consent. The response by the influencer was that she consented to the picture. For someone to go out of their way to place their hand on the breast of an underage supporter, this is clearly sexual assauIt. Though situations like this can leave young victims confused and unaware that this is something that needs to be taken to higher authorities because of how often we can confuse and associate sexual assault with extreme acts of violence, and there may be pressure to conserve the reputations of perpetrators especially if they are some type of role model/ or influential figure in the victims life.
What we sometimes seem to forget is that there is a large spectrum to sexual violence that needs to be addressed.
Below are the different points on the spectrum of sexual assault:
I will do another blog breaking down sexual violence in fuller detail. however please remember these titles in the mean time:
domestic sexual abuse
By Shiroe Zita