Groping in the Dark

Ruthie Patriquin
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May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault comes in many forms and happens to both males and females. Parents play an important role in preventing child and youth sexual abuse/assault.

Child sexual abuse occurs when an adult, an adolescent, or another child uses a young child for his/her sexual gratification or stimulation. In some cases the abuser may be about the same age as the child but have more power and misuses it. The abuser uses manipulation, bribes, threats, or force. Usually the abuser is someone the child knows. Many pre-teens that I talk with about sexual assault have the impression from TV shows that abusers are strangers and that there is always violence.

There are two distinct forms of sexual abuse: contact and non-contact. To learn more, you may want to get a free copy of “Keeping our Kids Safe... answers to what you can do to prevent child sexual abuse” from the Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County (SHCCC) (see below).

Parents can start by using accurate names for private parts, teaching children that the entire body is private and should be respected, and teaching children safety skills including Internet safety (pamphlets on this topic also available at SHCCC).

Sexual assault is a form of assault that involves some type of sexual contact without your consent. Consent is the voluntary agreement to take part in the activity. There is no consent if you did not agree, you were incapable of agreeing (you were passed out, too drunk, drugged), you were persuaded to take part in the sexual activity by someone who had power or authority over you, you indicated by word or action that you did not want to take part in the sexual activity, you agreed to the activity but later indicated that you no longer wanted to continue. There are different legal categories for sexual assault. Simple sexual assault involves things like having private areas of the body touched, being kissed, or becoming involved in sexual intercourse or oral sexual without your consent.

For sexual health information in Cumberland County, contact one of the following: Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County, 11 Elmwood Dr. (side entrance), Amherst (667-7500), Public Health at 18 S. Albion St., Amherst (667-3319), the Teen Health Centre (located in Amherst Regional High School), Youth Health Centre (Springhill High), your family doctor or nurse practitioner.

To contact the Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County with a question for this column, email: .

Organizations: Sexual Health Centre, Amherst Regional High School

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Amherst, Elmwood

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