The statistics for sexual abuse are startling. with over 11 serious sexual offences occurring to adults alone every hour, in England and Wales.

Many articles and reviews have occurred over the last 10 years as more knowledge is gained about sexual abuse:

  • Around 90% of people who are raped know the perpetrator before they are raped [An Overview of Sexual Offending in England & Wales, MOJ/ONS 2013]
  • 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced sexual abuse since turning 16 [Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) 2017]
  • 31% of young women reported experiencing childhood sexual abuse [NSPCC, 2011]

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity to a person and can occur by either a stranger or somebody who is trusted or loved by the person.

It can often be harder to see the signs of sexual violence that happen in relationships as the relationship to the ‘outside world’ may seem a loving one – both partners might be respected and well-liked but nobody ever deserves or asks for sexual abuse to occur. Therefore, it does not matter by who or why the act happens, the perpetrator is 100% responsible and it is not ok.

5 signs of Sexual Abuse to watch out for


Depression and a lower mood can be experienced by many people for many reasons and whilst not always needing a formal diagnosis, anyone suffering long periods of hopelessness or sadness could have suffered sexual abuse.

With sexual abuse, an individual can feel a loss of their own body and thus a reduction in self-esteem or self-worth. Professional intervention will often be needed to provide a person the tools to work through what they have experienced and to enable them not to blame themselves.


As with depression, anxiety can be experienced for several reasons and often the root cause can take time to identify. The main reason for anxiety manifesting in sexual abuse sufferers is the fear that it could continue or happen again.

With sexual abuse, an individual may feel out of control and unable to leave their home or react (what may seem) irrationally to certain situations. Many things can exacerbate anxiety and cause an attack when an individual is working through their trauma.


Anger, particularly when it seems irrational, can be a reaction to trauma.

With sexual abuse, an individual may struggle to work through what they have experienced and feel anger towards other people – they may feel they were unprotected by a person or feel anger at themselves.


Self-harm in any situation is an obvious sign something is not right – a happy person will not harm themselves.

With sexual abuse, self-harm can take many forms but often may show as:

  • Cutting the body
  • Substance abuse
  • Change in eating habits
  • Acting out sexually

Social anxiety/problems

Any sudden change in a person could be a sign of sexual trauma.

With sexual abuse, an individual may find it difficult to build trust or experience intimate relationships.

The sexual abuse does not have to have been recent for any of the above warning signs to suddenly manifest. It can take the body and mind sometimes years to process what has/is being experienced.

Any experience of sexual abuse is not the fault of the ‘victim’ or ‘survivor’ and help is always available through ourselves or local support services.

We can help

If you or somebody you know has been raped or experienced sexual abuse of any kind, during a relationship, we can help or signpost to somebody who can.

Call our team on 01522 561020 or email



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