"It is important to define sexual abuse clearly because what we call something determines how we react to it. As Finkelhor says, 'What people think
sexual abuse is and how seriously they take it affects how they behave'." ("Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse," by Mic Hunter, p 5).
In other words slowly but surely & to some extent
non-male survivors are going to think sexual abuse
is what we say it is as more & more of us continue
to share our stories (even anonymously). Thus the more seriously non-survivors, especially those of power & influence, will take sexual victimization of males, and the more they will behave in ways that will be of benefit to male survivors and to other men before they can be abused.
Right now if you look up or try to find legal definitions of sexual abuse, especially of males, well lots of luck! Definitions often don't include
males at all; even when they do, they are usually way too narrow & limited, i.e. to "rape" or "sexual assault" perhaps.
What is sexual abuse? Mic Hunter writes, "But I am
not writing about data or evidence in the legal sense. I am writing about people and their pain. My definition is based on what people have told me
hurt them." (Abused Boys, pp 4 & 5).
Bottom line: If someone has been hurt & says they have been hurt by the sexual behaviors of others, they have by definition been sexually abused. Period.
So here is a somewhat lengthy & specific tho not complete definition of sexual abuse. There are other good & similar ones out there. Hopefully this will help to clarify for us that for certain we were
sexually abused, and help us to speak with clarity & certainty about just what happened to us, how it affected us, and what we think should be done about it.
Sexual abuse involves any contact or interaction whereby a vulnerable person (usually a child or adolescent) is used for the sexual stimulation of an older, stronger, or more influential person.
Sexual abuse is much broader than forced, unforced, or simulated intercourse. It includes any touching, rubbing, or patting that is meant to arouse sexual pleasure in the offender. It may also involve visual, verbal, or psychological interaction where there is no physical contact.
Visual sexual abuse may involve exposing a victim
to pornography or to any other sexually provocative scene (including exposure to showering, intercourse, or various states of undress).
Verbal sexual abuse involves an attempt to seduce or shame a child by the use of sexual or suggestive words.
Psychological sexual abuse includes interactions where a child is regularly used to play the role of an adult spouse, confidant, or counselor. For example, a mother who tells her 12-year-old son her sexual frustrations with his father, and shares her deep thoughts and feelings with him in a way that invites him to a level of adult intimacy, has violated the young man's sexual identity.
(from "When Trust Is Lost: Healing for Victims of Sexual Abuse" by Dan Allendar, available free at http://www.gospelcom.net/rbc/ds/cb922/intro
(Yes it does have a Christian orientation but there is a lot of good info here for anyone.)
This is not a complete list and the examples could
be virtually endless. You might add something from
your own experience.
A good question to contemplate:
In what ways has your definition helped you not to have to
feel the full impact of your (your loved one's) abuse?
Naming the pain is an important first step in facing & dealing with the pain.