Providing Care for Survivors of Sexual Abuse

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Original Editor - Zafer Altunbezel

Top Contributors - Naomi O'Reilly  

Introduction to Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is a global concern which is occuring in every culture, in all levels of society and age groups throughout the world. It is a rising global issue as sexual violence can bring devastating consequences to the mental health and well-being of a person, contributing to , However, data on most aspects of sexual violence today are lacking in many countries.[1] There is a huge need everywhere for more research to be done on all aspects of sexual violence. According to current available data, nearly every one in four women during her lifetime has suffered an attempted or completed rape by an intimate partner,[2][3][4] whereas up to one-third of adolescent women reported their first sexual experience as being forced. [5][6][7]

Despite the vast majority of victims being women, men and children of both genders are also experiencing sexual violence. Between 8% and 31% of girls and 3% and 17% of boys experience Childhood Sexual Violence (CSV) worldwide.[8] In Southeast Asia, a recent review suggested that approximately 10% of boys and 15% of girls have experienced at least one form of sexual violence in their childhood.[9] Sexual violence can take place within a variety of settings including home, workplace, schools and the community. In many cases, it begins in childhood or adolescence.

Sexual violence has a significant negative impact on the health of the population. The potential reproductive and sexual health consequences are numerous – unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/ AIDS) and increased risk for adoption of adoption of risky sexual behaviours (e.g. early and increased sexual involvement, and exposure to older and multiple partners). The mental health consequences of sexual violence can be just as serious and long lasting. Victims of child sexual abuse, for example, are more likely to experience depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide in later life than their non-abused counterparts.Worldwide child sexual abuse is a major cause of PTSD, accounting for an estimated 33% of cases in females and 21% of cases in males.[9]

Definition & Types of Sexual Violence

Overview of Service Provision






  1. World Health Organization (WHO). Sexual Violence. Available from: ( Accessed 19 September 2020)
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  8. Barth, J., Bermetz, L., Heim, E., Trelle, S., & Tonia, T. (2013). The current prevalence of child sexual abuse worldwide: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Public Health, 58, 469–483.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Fry, D., & Blight, S. (2016). How prevention of violence in childhood builds healthier economies and smarter children in the Asia and Pacific region. BMJ Global Health, 1, i3–i11