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: www.hilfetelefon.de/
National Association of Women’s Counselling Centres and Women’s Emergency Hotlines (bff): 030 322 99 500 / online: www.frauen-gegen-gewalt.de/de/hilfe-vor-ort.html
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 https://www.hilfetelefon.de/das-hilfetelefon.html
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
TELEFON E‑MAIL WEB
03 41 22 54 318