• 💖 [Donate To Keep MyPTSD Online] 💖 Every contribution, no matter how small, fuels our mission and helps us continue to provide peer-to-peer services. Your generosity keeps us independent and available freely to the world. MyPTSD closes if we can't reach our annual goal.

Sexual Assault Does sexual gratification/intent have to be involved for it to be sexual abuse/assault/harassment?

Making a new thread, as on another thread a few people have said that sexual gratification doesn’t need to be involved for something to be sexual abuse, but it needs to be sexualised. Which has got me confused about my mum.

I have defined what my mum did as not sexual abuse/harassment as I don’t think she got sexual gratification/thrill from it and I don’t think she intended it to be sexual ( I think. I do think she gets a thrill out of it, but I think that is more having power?). I think what she did was based on her belief she owns me and she has a right to do whatever she wants to my body, because it’s essentially hers.
however, there is, or I have felt, or I have got confused about, a sexual element to it.

and I have been ignoring my questions about this ever since I told my T that when I recently told my middle sister a broad outlined of sexual trauma happening to me, my sister asked if it was my mum that did that (which is interesting that’s the first person she thought of) and T asking what I said in response. All that has made me think, again, what was this?

if another person kept making comments about my body, and if another person kept touching me (slapping me on my bottom, stroking my arm, touching my arm, my leg, etc), and kept ‘accidentally’ walking in when I’m on the shower/toilet, or getting dressed, I prob would say there is a sexual element to it and is sexually harassing. But I haven’t with her. She’s never done any sexual act to me. she and my oldest sister have a very enmeshed relationship, where they hold hands when they are in public and laugh as they like people to think they are a couple. They share a bed when my mum stays at hers and my sister’s boyfriend then stays in their spare room. they hold hands, stroke each others arms and legs etc all the time. I can’t stand it and I see it as sexual (it’s not a culturally acceptable thing, I don’t think). T has said my mum has a child like sexual expression, or something like that.

so I am confused.
what is it?
and why doesn’t there have to be a sexual gratification/thrill for something to be sexual?
 
Last edited:
IMO (and it’s nothing more than that) - no.

Taking something else as an example: financial abuse.

Let’s say an abuser withholds a victim’s access to money in order to control them, or have power over them. It isn’t necessary that they actually want a personal financial benefit from it, in order to be financial abuse. It isn’t necessary that they sat back and thought about how to benefit financially at all.

It’s that it’s an exercise of power and control, in an abusive way, which happens to capitalise on the vulnerability that comes from lack of financial freedom, that makes it financial abuse.

Abuse = mis-use. With or without intention or gratification. Whether or not it’s financial, sexual, physical, religious, ethnic - gratification and intent aren’t pre-requisites. “I didn’t mean it like that” doesn’t make abusive conduct acceptable, if the victim has been misused.
 
I’ve thought since you first posted that the slapping your bottom was sexual harassment. I don’t care who it is or what their intent it matters how you feel about it and it gives you an icky feeling. If your mom slapped you back you’d be annoyed but it probably wouldn’t give you an icky feeling. Just because it’s your mom doesn’t mean it’s not sexual. Your sisters comment only serves to illustrate the point.
 
prob would say there is a sexual element to it and is sexually harassing. But I haven’t with her
I prob need to clarify what I mean there. I have said it has felt sexual before. And it makes me very agitated. But I haven’t defined it at sexual abuse. i’ve decided it wasn’t.
Abuse = mis-use. With or without intention or gratification. Whether or not it’s financial, sexual, physical, religious, ethnic - gratification and intent aren’t pre-requisites. “I didn’t mean it like that” doesn’t make abusive conduct acceptable, if the victim has been misused.
But then this,….. I understand your view and I like the example you gave of financial abuse.
I think I am still confused about my experience of my mum and what to call it.
 
I’ve thought since you first posted that the slapping your bottom was sexual harassment. I don’t care who it is or what their intent it matters how you feel about it and it gives you an icky feeling. If your mom slapped you back you’d be annoyed but it probably wouldn’t give you an icky feeling. Just because it’s your mom doesn’t mean it’s not sexual. Your sisters comment only serves to illustrate the point.
Thanks @Charbella. i think I am really struggling.

what if the icky feeling is me being triggered? And there actually is nothing in the behaviour of her slapping my bottom?
but saying that, I think it is triggering as it Is one example of the many where she invades my body/my space. Idk.
I am very confused.
and yep, my sister asking has just left a question. And T asking what my response was, made me think “well of course I said no….but is T saying I should have included her and said yes?”
 
I would actually take this a step further, using my own mom as an example. She committed covert sexual abuse by crossing a lot of boundaries with me when I was a child regarding things like masturbation. But I do not consider my mother a sexual abuser, because she did not intend to commit a sexual offense against me, nor did she gain gratification from it. She, like your mom, had a child-like understanding of sexual activity and was confused about what to do when I acted out sexually as a 4-5 year old. It was sexual abuse, but she isn't a sexual abuser.
 
I would actually take this a step further, using my own mom as an example. She committed covert sexual abuse by crossing a lot of boundaries with me when I was a child regarding things like masturbation. But I do not consider my mother a sexual abuser, because she did not intend to commit a sexual offense against me, nor did she gain gratification from it. She, like your mom, had a child-like understanding of sexual activity and was confused about what to do when I acted out sexually as a 4-5 year old. It was sexual abuse, but she isn't a sexual abuser.
Thanks for sharing @weenie. And sorry that happened to you.

I think I am also confused by the notion that someone is not a sexual abuser but what they did was sexually abusive.
 
someone is not a sexual abuser but what they did was sexually abusive.
Not sure if this is helpful but what came to mind for me are the cases where people have been sexually abused by animals (dolphins and orangutans are the ones I read about). The animals were clearly sexually abusing the people but the people didn’t develop PTSD from it because they didn’t see the animals as sexual abusers.
 
Overwhelmingly, most “types” of rape? Are about power. (And, yep. All kinds of rape are so common to have been separated into types.).

That being said?

Pure sadists? Who are ONLY out for pain/power? Only go after sex organs incidentally. As most people still have various kinds of shame/pain around sex acts being brutalised, so it’s a delicious kind of multi-level pain to evoke. Meanwhile many/most torturers will gangrape their victims ahead of time, as rape and sexual assault has some deeply ingrained shame/pain that’s useful to them. (The torturers). ESPECIALLY men. It is far more useful to rape men, before questioning them than women, just because most women are conditioned to the fear of rape (if not the event) whilst most men aren’t. Including double rape, of men, sucking them off whilst raping them bloody anally. It’s a tremendous mindf*ck. Just like most people don’t handle breaking “potty training” very well. It is a MOST effective tactic to force a prisoner to break potty training, on their overall well being. More effective, in many ways, than rape. But both are stil usually used. Still? If a pure sadist or interrogator comes across someone who doesn’t really give a f*ck about sex organs (including non-western sex organs, like hair or thighs/knees, because these are deeply ingrained cultural constructs)…They go for eyelids, and other pure physical pain centres.

Someone snipping/swatting/pinching at nipples and saying “Yo… Go put on a bra!” Is about a cultural construct that nipples & jiggle-physics of bare-boobing it should be covered/constrained.

It’s almost ANTI-sexual? As it’s attempting to minimise the sexuality of the person jiggling-out in public.

Meanwhile in regions where boobs are for babies, and are not sex organs, at all (no more than elbows, or ears, or hair) and virtually no woman even covers their breasts, much less wears a bra under a shirt? Their THIGHS, are …OMFG.., so… HOW THE f*ck CAN YOU LET WOMEN WEAR PANTS WITH THEIR THIGHS JUST HANGING OUT THERE, FOR ALL TO SEE?!? Smack. Put on a skirt. For f*cks sake. Leave something to the imagination!

Long and short of ^^it^^^. Yep. Intention matters.

- You SLUT! You went out in public with your HAIR just out for EVERYONE to see?!?
- You SLUT! You didn’t wear a bra?!?
- You SLUT! You didn’t wear a skirt?!?

Someone being so concerned with cultural constructs that they’d abuse &/or casually remind members of their family to conform? Isn’t sexual abuse. It’s straight up abuse -or- rule following goody-goodies.
 
Last edited:
Thanks @Friday. I’m still confused. (Not about the other thread and the question that OP posed, but my situation).

if intent matters: I’m never going to know her intent (my mum’s). I’m only going to have my interpretation of her intent. And I don’t think it is consciously in her mind to be sexual or harassing to me, but I do think there is intent, again sometimes not consciously, to ‘own’ me. The power thing. And it feels sexual to me, because it my body, and because of everything else. And so I go around in a confusion of what was it that she did to me.

maybe I need to move away from labelling it and just acknowledge that I get distressed by whatever it was.
but also, I wonder if exploring this is actually going to be healing, given how much hatred I have had for my body because it’s like hers, and how much work I have had to do in therapy to separate my body from hers.
 
I don’t think I can copy to here (copyright) but I like the legal definitions. Yes there’s always exceptions, but I generally find those exceptions are either so glaringly obvious there’s no contest OR could go either way and it falls to the person to decide how they see it. So for ‘sexual abuse’, it’s………satisfying/arousing some sexual need, or humiliation, punishment, degradation. So basically no, IMO & in the eyes of our law, the intent does not always have to be purely sexual.

I’m (maybe rightly, wrongly, unhelpfully) of the opinion that people have gotten too keen to lump things in the ‘sexual abuse/harassment etc’ category because it feels more validating of their pain and suffering. Just because something maybe doesn’t fall under the category of sexual, it doesn’t mean that event wasn’t distressing, harmful, hurtful, abusive and that needs just as much validation and causes just as much suffering.

I think whatever conclusion you come to in terms of labelling, your mum should have respected your boundaries around touch, privacy & autonomy.
 
Back
Top