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Sexual abuse: Don’t blame yourself — take action now

If you have been sexually abused, don’t play the blame game, as in, "I should have done…" or "I should not have…" If someone takes advantage of you sexually, it is not your fault. It is his or hers.

Sexual abusers can sometimes be the person you would suspect the least: a pastor, a minister, someone you are dating, a relative or a teacher. If your attacker is someone you don’t know, it might seem easier to report the sexual abuse, but when it is someone you know or are close to, it is often much more difficult.

But whether the perpetrator is someone you know or don’t know, any sexual activity that is not consensual by both parties is sexual abuse. It doesn’t have to be rape. Any type of unwanted touching, being forced to touch parts of another person or perform sexual acts of any kind is sexual abuse.

If you have been a victim of sexual assault or abuse, you may be blaming yourself or wondering what you did wrong. Often victims feel ashamed, angry, betrayed or even depressed. Feelings of anxiety and helplessness are common. This is pain and suffering no one should have to endure.

Being a victim of sexual abuse is the fault of the perpetrator. Take immediate action — even if it is hard to do. If you are unsure what to do, there are crisis centers that you can call to put you on the right track. Seeking medical attention before bathing or changing clothes will help in gathering evidence of the crime — even if you are not sure you want to report it. You may decide to report it later on, and then the evidence will still be available.

Contacting an attorney for both advice and legal assistance will ensure that you have someone to fight for you and represent you in holding your perpetrator accountable. Holding the perpetrator accountable not only buys justice for you, but may also help protect others from experiencing the same abuse.

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