Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse

Sexual Assault vs Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse and sexual assault are activities that are undesirable and are conducted by one person against another without his or her consent. Rape is the most well-known of offenses of sexual nature, but there are many behaviors and actions that qualify as sexual assault and sexual abuse. Many people remain confused between these two sex related offenses because of their similarities. However, despite similarities, there are differences that will be talked about in this article.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a behavior in which one person forces another to engage in a sexual act, threatens or uses force to do so. This may involve touching of the genitals of the person without his or her consent.

There can be various degrees of sexual assault with rape being the culmination of such behavior. However, the behavior is still sexual assault even if actual penetration has not taken place. The main thing to keep in mind is that consent of the victim is not required in sexual assault, and he or she may give in because of force, threat of force, under the influence of drugs, or even emotional blackmail. This is the term that has been used in most cases of assault with a sexual intent and in which penetration has not taken place. Touching of genitals and fondling of private parts is included in sexual assault.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a term that is applied in cases where an individual is sexually harassed by another and is subject to forced sexual contact by the aggressor.

The important thing to remember is that, in sexual abuse, the duration of this behavior is long as the use of force for undesired sexual behavior for a short duration qualifies as sexual assault. Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual behavior towards children. Sexual abuse is a generic term and includes such behavior towards one’s spouse too. Use of position of power in offices is a common form of sexual abuse.

Sexual Assault vs Sexual Abuse

• Sexual abuse is undesirable sexual behavior on a long term basis, whereas sexual assault is use of force or threat of force for a short duration to achieve penetration or touch the genitals of the victim.

• Sexual abuse is a breach of trust or misuse of power, whereas sexual assault is violent and sudden.

• A person can sexually abuse his spouse and so can a doctor his patient.

• Rape is the culmination of sexual assault with the offender achieving penetration and ejaculation of semen.

• In sexual assault, it is the desire of the molester to penetrate the victim or touch and fondle her genitals.

• Sexual abuse can be verbal or even visual as when the molester exposes his private parts in front of the victim.