Sexual abuse and rape - their differences

12 December, 2019
Although sexual abuse and rape aren’t synonymous, both cases involve forcing the victim to preform sexual acts against their will

Sexual abuse and rape are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, understanding the differences between the two ideas will help us shine a little light on the two realities that are, sadly, a current issue.

In cases of both sexual abuse and rape, victims may suffer from disorders such as:

  • Post-traumatic stress,
  • A lowered self-esteem
  • Feelings of powerlessness for a lifetime.

Below we’ll explain the meaning of both terms. This way you’ll learn to differentiate them.

Read: Learn How to Identify a Child Abuser

Rape is forced sex

Sexual Abuse and Rape

Rape implies a forced sex act that involves penetration. By means of force or intimidation, the victim is forced to have sex against their will.

  • There are three kinds of rape: oral, anal or vaginal.
  • Genital penetration isn’t necessarily the only kind of penetration that can take place. Other objects, or other parts of the body, such as the fingers, can penetrate as well.

Despite the fact that rape is a non-consensual sex act, the rapist might not always be looking for sexual satisfaction. In some cases, the rapist might want to use their power over someone else in order to enjoy the feeling of being in control. At least, according to this study by Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in México.

Discover: 5 Psychological Traits of Submissive People

Sexual abuse in relationships

Sexual abuse in relationships

This heading might seem a bit shocking, but sexual abuse often happens in relationships. In these cases, there isn’t always a display of physical force nor aggression. Instead, relationships can be filled with tricks and manipulation as per this study by Universidad de La Laguna.

The goal is for the other person to do things for the abuser to get excited. For example, by coercion, the victim might sext a photo to them.

Also, the person who sexually abuses another might touch and rub their victim to make them nervous. This is known as sexual harassment.

When is there sexual abuse within a relationship? Well, by forcing a partner to perform fellatio when they don’t want to do it, for example.

There’s also a practice known as “stealthing” according to this study by Monash University in Australia. This word refers to the removal of the condom during consensual sex without the consent or knowledge of the other sexual partner. This is why it’s sexual abuse.

Read :Abuse and Mistreatment in Adolescent Couples

Sexual abuse and rape aren’t always about paraphilia

Sexual abuse and rape aren't always just a paraphilia

There are times when sexual abuse and rape might be due to paraphilia. However, it could be beyond it.

Childhood trauma or some kind of unsettled abuse that abusers experienced as children can lead them to crave domination and using violence against others according to this study by Universidad de Barcelona in Spain.

It’s a way to deal with those problems that affect them because they don’t know how to do so in a healthier way. Consulting a psychologist, for instance.

This often occurs as most people are inclined to negate the more painful memories that have deeply and negatively impacted them.

What’s the penalty for sexual abuse and rape?

However, regardless of how much they might want to forget, the problems linger.

  • Currently, punishments for rape constitute serious prison sentences, ranging from 6 to 12 years for the person who sexually attacked another.
  • However, sexual abuse only has prison sentences for 4 to 10 years, depending on the kind of abuse in a particular case.

Don’t miss out on: 7 Invisible Effects of Psychological Abuse

No doubt it’s clear the victim gets the worse of it. The psychological effects, fear, and insecurities that result from this kind of violence can change the way that victims relate with other people.

A victim of sexual abuse and rape needs many years to recover, despite having help from a psychologist and undergoing various treatments. Some of them never fully overcome their experience. What happened to them leaves them with a wound that’s very deep and will continue to affect them for the rest of their life.

  • Pereira, A., & Zubiaur, M. (2011). Sobre el origen de la violacion. ReCrim.
  • Vallejo, A., & Córdoba, M. (2012). Abuso sexual : tratamientos y atención. Revista de Psicología.
  • Beltran, N. P. (2010). Consecuencias psicológicas a largo plazo del abuso sexual infantil. Papeles Del Psicologo. http://doi.org/10.4321/S1135-76062006000100006