Was this harassment sexual abuse

Definition of sexual abuse

Sexual abuse or sexual violence against children is any sexual act that is carried out on or in front of girls and boys against their will or to which they cannot knowingly consent due to physical, emotional, mental or linguistic inferiority. The perpetrator uses his or her position of power and authority to satisfy his or her own needs at the expense of the child.

This social science definition applies to all minors. In the case of under 14-year-olds, it can generally be assumed that they cannot consent to sexual acts. They are always to be seen as sexual violence, even if a child agrees to it.

Information on the legal definition and criminal liability of sexual abuse can be found in the corresponding chapter under the Law tab.

Where abuse begins

There is a wide range of acts that are labeled as sexual violence or abuse. Not all sexual violence is a criminal offense, but all sexual violence hurts girls and boys.

Sexual violence begins with sexual assaults such as verbal harassment, voyeuristic appraisal of the child's body, but also fleeting touches of the genital area or the chest over clothing. If the contact happens by mistake, one speaks only of a boundary violation that can be eliminated with an apology.

It is a criminal abuse if sexual acts take place on the child's body or if the adult or adolescent allows himself to be touched accordingly, e.g. manipulates the child's genitals, kisses him with tongue, lets himself be satisfied by the child. The severe forms include rape of all kinds: vaginal, oral, anal. There are also acts of abuse that do not directly involve the child's body, e.g. when someone masturbates in front of a child, exhibits, shows the child specifically pornographic representations or sexual acts Actions to be taken on oneself - for example in front of the webcam.

Photographing or filming acts of abuse is a special form of sexual abuse. You can find more information on this topic here.

Use of language - “sexual abuse” or “sexual or sexualized violence”?

In Germany, the term “sexual abuse” is used by the general public, in the media and by many of those affected. The Criminal Code also speaks of sexual abuse, but unlike the general usage, it only means criminal forms of sexual violence.

Professional practice and science often speak of “sexual violence against children and adolescents”. This wording makes it clear that it is violence that is exercised through sexual means. The term “sexualised violence”, which is also used, goes one step further and makes it clear that sexuality is functionalised in the case of acts, i.e. used to exercise violence.