Words Matter

Very often we are asked if it makes a difference to use the phrase ‘Child Molestation’ and ‘Child Sexual Abuse’ interchangeably.


Some words have specific meanings, especially within the context of the law or in a clinical sense. Child Sexual Abuse is as direct as it can get.


If we think in terms of “molestation” and “sexual assault”, it implies a physical force that has affected the child. However, physical force is not necessarily present in a lot of cases where adults sexually abuse children. When reporting the facts of an abuse, it becomes crucial to use the correct vocabulary and to be respectful of the experiences of those who were not necessarily “raped”, “molested” or “assaulted”. This makes “child sexual abuse” as a phrase far more useful to employ as it refers to a large variety of inappropriate acts against a child.


The phrase “child sexual abuse” accurately identifies the abused that is the child, and it states what they have experienced, that is sexualised abuse. The phrase in itself includes the meaning of the acts involved, so that there is no misunderstanding. Furthermore, the phrase “child sexual abuse” centers the voices of victims and survivors.


By identifying it in this manner, we recognise who the victims and survivors are and what they have experienced. As we continue to shed light on all issues regarding child sexual abuse, it is extremely important to let victims and survivors know and be reassured that their voices matter and that it is safe for them to speak out about their experience of sexual abuse.


They will be heard. And believed.


Words Matter.

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