How can Sexual Abuse be Prevented?

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may have been sexually abused or has questions around the topic:

What is Sexual Abuse? Definitions & Meanings
Who Commits Sexual Abuse & Why?
What are Signs & Symptoms of Sexual Abuse?
Handling & Dealing with Sexual Abuse
How to Heal and Recover from Sexual Abuse
What Impact Does Sexual Abuse Have on Victims, Families & Friends?
How to Report Sexual Abuse (and Who to Report it to)
How is Sexual Abuse Proven in Court?
Punishment & Sentencing for Sexual Abuse
How can Sexual Abuse be Prevented?
Sexual Abuse Data & Statistics
Sexual Abuse Helplines, Support & Further Reading


Everyone has a right to live safely and free from abuse, unfortunately, we live in a world where anyone can be targeted by offenders who wish to abuse or exploit them.

In this guide, we will discuss the different ways sexual abuse can be prevented and how we can all play a part in trying to combat this awful crime.

How can Sexual Abuse be immediately stopped when it’s occurring?

It will be very difficult or impossible to think clearly when you are in a situation like this. If the offender detects any sign of you seeking help, it could make the situation worse. Look out for a way to escape safely, a few moments of this space could be enough to make a call to the police on 999.

How can vulnerable people be kept safe from Sexual Abuse?

One of the best ways of keeping vulnerable people safe from sexual abuse is by helping them learn and understand as much as they can about the topic. Creating awareness of sexual abuse will help people to recognise signs of sexual abuse and know what to do when raising a concern. Education and awareness around this topic should be encouraged by talking about it, whether it be at home, in schools or in the community, talking is the first step in recognising a problem.

Information on what to do if you suspect abuse should be made available within the community and support services should be more accessible for victims. Communities need to work together in removing the stigma associated with abuse, encouraging victims to reach out for help.

Although there is a strong legal framework in the UK for the protection of vulnerable adults, policies and procedures within organisations should be reviewed regularly helping individuals and organisations to have a clear understanding of the rights of vulnerable adults and their responsibility towards them, reducing the risk of abuse.

What about keeping those who believe they are unsusceptible to becoming a victim safe?

Again it is important to be able to have appropriate discussions about this topic at an early age, raising awareness and understanding that abuse can happen to anyone. Children should be given enough information about body safety and ways they can keep themselves safe, this knowledge can be a powerful deterrent.

Raising public awareness in communities on sexual abuse is key, people need to understand that everyone is at risk of this happening to them. Individuals should be able to live freely and have control over their lives but also know how to keep safe.

What can we do as a society to prevent the likelihood of people becoming sexual abusers?

In order to create a society in which people feel safe requires the understanding of safety as a human right and public good that needs to be protected. To prevent the likelihood of people becoming sexual abusers it is important to address the root cause of the problem. Governments should invest in prevention strategies, aiming to prevent sexually abusive behaviour before it develops by identifying the factors that can lead to it and then trying to address them. Examples of how this can be achieved include;

  • Public information and awareness-raising campaigns
  • Educational programmes
  • Early-childhood interventions
  • Legislative and policy frameworks

There needs to be more resources and support made available and accessible to individuals who have been sexually abused. This will help them reach out and get help to recover from their experiences, helping them to heal and not become abusers themselves.

How can we prevent past or present Sexual Abusers from offending again?

Having a good strong legal framework may help reduce sexual abuse, offenders need to know their actions can result in serious consequences which can affect their lives, whether it be a prison sentence or a police record. Sex offenders need to be closely monitored by the police when they are released from prison to help prevent them from offending again.

Toughening the punishments for offenders may also deter offenders from repeating the behaviour. However rehabilitation programmes for sex offenders may be more effective if the offender has deeper underlying issues that would be better addressed through counselling, counselling focuses on the power/control philosophy and accepting responsibility. Although this approach can understandably cause some controversy, it may be appropriate in cases where the offender has been abused themselves and suffers from a mental disorder and does not understand the implications of their behaviour.

We understand how difficult it is to experience abuse, whether it is yourself or someone you know, sometimes trying to find help is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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