- Bessel van der Kolk, MD
Sexual abuse is any sexual contact or interaction (visual, verbal, or psychological) where consent is not willingly given and obtained but is instead accomplished through force, intimidation, coercion, manipulation, or threat for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other person.
It’s important to understand what constitutes consent and how it varies depending on the individuals involved.
A child cannot truly consent to sexual activity with an adult. There are two major reasons why:
Maturity: There is a reason why states have “age of consent” laws — they establish at which point a young person is emotionally and mentally competent enough to make informed decisions regarding sex.
Power/authority: Adults (and even older children) are in positions of power over children which puts them in a position of vulnerability.
With over 30 years of experience working with victims of sexual abuse and our experience as parents, we’ve learned over and over again that it falls on adults to protect children from this significant risk. If you’re ready to take steps to protect your kids, join us for an upcoming workshop.