Sexual abuse

Sexu­al abu­se is any sexu­al act per­for­med on, with or in front of child­ren and ado­le­s­cents against their will or to which they can­not kno­wing­ly con­sent due to phy­si­cal, men­tal, intellec­tu­al or lin­gu­i­stic infe­rio­ri­ty. In the case of child­ren under 14 years of age, they are gene­ral­ly inca­pa­ble of giving con­sent.
The poli­ce crime sta­tis­tics of 2021 show approx. 15,500 cases of repor­ted sexu­al abu­se (§ 176, 176a, 176b StGB). Experts assu­me that the num­ber of unre­por­ted cases is 6–20 times hig­her.

In 9 out of 10 cases, the per­pe­tra­tors come from the social envi­ron­ment of the affec­ted per­son, in many cases from the fami­ly.
Sexu­al abu­se is not a vio­lent form of sexua­li­ty, but a sexu­al form of vio­lence. It is always based on an abu­se of power.
Sexu­al abu­se is often accom­pa­nied by other forms of vio­lence, such as psy­cho­lo­gi­cal or phy­si­cal vio­lence.‘

Sexu­al abu­se occurs, for exam­p­le, when an adult or a signi­fi­cant­ly older person.

• per­sua­des girls or boys to per­form sexu­al acts on them­sel­ves, other child­ren or the adult,
• asks them to show them­sel­ves naked,
• shows them por­no­gra­phic images or indu­ces them to par­ti­ci­pa­te in such images,
• per­forms sexu­al acts on the body of girls or boys,
• enga­ges in anal, oral or vagi­nal sexu­al inter­cour­se with girls or boys.

In more than 80% of cases, the abu­se beg­ins bet­ween the ages of 0 and 12, with an increase in the age group of 5 to 8 years.
Abu­s­ers use their posi­ti­on of power and aut­ho­ri­ty and an exis­ting rela­ti­onship of trust to satis­fy their own needs at the cost of the child or young per­son.
The moti­ves are not pri­ma­ri­ly sexu­al needs, but the desi­re for power and sub­mis­si­on. The actions are often sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly plan­ned; the anxie­ty, fee­lings of guilt and shame of the affec­ted child­ren and ado­le­s­cents are stra­te­gi­cal­ly used to remain unno­ti­ced.
In the cour­se of con­tin­ued abu­se, affec­ted child­ren incre­asing­ly expe­ri­ence con­fu­sing, frigh­tening and often con­flic­ting fee­lings.
Mul­ti­ple fears deter­mi­ne their ever­y­day life, such as the fear of repe­ti­ti­on of the assaults, the fear of phy­si­cal pain, the fear of dis­co­very and of the perpetrator’s thre­ats coming true. The­se fears are asso­cia­ted with fee­lings of power­less­ness, hel­p­less­ness and hope­l­ess­ness.
Child­ren affec­ted by sexu­al abu­se expe­ri­ence that their bodies are used for the satis­fac­tion of others. Their per­so­nal boun­da­ries, their needs and expres­si­ons of will are repea­ted­ly igno­red. This results in fee­lings of humi­lia­ti­on and degra­da­ti­on.
Con­tin­ued sexu­al abu­se is usual­ly asso­cia­ted with con­fu­si­on and doubts about one’s own per­cep­ti­ons. A trus­ted and often loved per­son does vio­lence to the child and deli­bera­te­ly tri­es to deny the child’s fee­lings, e.g. by say­ing: “You’­re enjoy­ing this.” By for­bid­ding the child­ren to tell other peo­p­le about it, the per­pe­tra­tors iso­la­te the child­ren and pre­vent them from veri­fy­ing their per­cep­ti­ons by tal­king to other peo­p­le. Fee­lings of guilt and shame fur­ther pre­vent this.
Public awa­re­ness of sexu­al abu­se is still tain­ted with many myths and mis­con­cep­ti­ons.
The­se also make it dif­fi­cult for vic­tims to talk about what they have expe­ri­en­ced and to get help. One of the tasks of vio­lence pre­ven­ti­on is to coun­ter such myths with the facts.


More infor­ma­ti­on on medi­cal inter­ven­ti­on against vio­lence against women: S.I.G.N.A.L. Inter­ven­ti­on im Gesund­heits­be­reich bei Gewalt an Frau­en , gesi­ne Netz­werk Gesund­heit EN gegen häus­li­che Gewalt


Accor­ding to a Ger­ma­ny-wide repre­sen­ta­ti­ve stu­dy, every 7th woman in Ger­ma­ny expe­ri­en­ces cri­mi­nal­ly signi­fi­cant sexua­li­sed vio­lence in the cour­se of her life. 60% of all women in Ger­ma­ny have expe­ri­en­ced sexu­al harass­ment. In 2020, 14,000 cases of sexu­al abu­se of child­ren beca­me known to the poli­ce. The num­ber of unre­por­ted cases of sexua­li­sed vio­lence is high.
Every woman and every girl can be affec­ted by sexua­li­sed vio­lence — regard­less of their age, appearance, social sta­tus or disa­bi­li­ty. Girls and women are threa­ten­ed by sexua­li­sed vio­lence in many dif­fe­rent situations.

Accor­ding to the poli­ce, fal­se accu­sa­ti­ons are extre­me­ly rare. It is much more com­mon for women to refrain from making a com­plaint out of fear and shame, espe­ci­al­ly if the per­pe­tra­tor is clo­se to them. In most cases, sexua­li­sed vio­lence takes place in the social envi­ron­ment, in places and by peo­p­le who are fami­li­ar to tho­se affec­ted. Every woman can be affec­ted by sexua­li­sed vio­lence regard­less of her age, appearance, clot­hing, natio­na­li­ty or reli­gi­on. In this con­text, women react very dif­fer­ent­ly to sexua­li­sed vio­lence they have suf­fe­r­ed — the­re is no “typi­cal vic­tim beha­viour” by which cre­di­bi­li­ty can be determined.

nati­on­wi­de hel­pli­ne cal­led „Gewalt gegen Frau­en“ (“Vio­lence against Women”): 08000 116 016 or online here:
Natio­nal Asso­cia­ti­on of Women’s Coun­sel­ling Cen­tres and Women’s Emer­gen­cy Hot­lines (bff): 030 322 99 500 / online:

The nati­on­wi­de hel­pli­ne “Gewalt gegen Frau­en“ (Vio­lence against Women) is a nati­on­wi­de coun­sel­ling ser­vice for women who have expe­ri­en­ced or are still expe­ri­en­cing vio­lence. Qua­li­fied coun­sell­ors con­fi­den­ti­al­ly assist tho­se see­king help and, if neces­sa­ry, refer them to local sup­port ser­vices, such as a women’s coun­sel­ling cent­re or a women’s shel­ter in the vici­ni­ty. Rela­ti­ves, fri­ends and pro­fes­sio­nals are also advi­sed anony­mously and free of char­ge

women for women asso­cia­ti­on / women emer­gen­cy hot­line
TELEFON 03 41 39 111 99 / 03 41 30 61 08 00 (Emer­gen­cy hot­line 24/7)

Vic­tim Sup­port Sax­o­ny
Bera­tungs­stel­le Leip­zig
Koch­stra­ße 1
04275 Leip­zig

03 41 22 54 318