The sexual abuse can take many different forms including the following:
Inappropriate relationships and or boyfriend model
The abuser has power which is either physical, emotional, financial or control over a young person. The young person may believe they are in a genuine friendship or relationship with the abuser. The abuse can exist is isolation and the individual perpetrates the abuse. Or it can involve the young person being introduced and abused by other people. The ‘boyfriend’ grooms the victim by striking up a seemingly loving relationship with the young person by giving them gifts and going out. Victims may be required to attend parties and have sex with multiple men. They are threatened with violence either to themselves or their loved ones if they don’t. They may also be made to introduce their friends as new victims.
Technology is widely used by perpetrators as a method of grooming and coercing victims. Often through social networking sites and mobile devices (Jago et al, 2011). The abuser grooms the child / young person on line. They may pose as another young person of a similar age or an adult. The abuser may talk to the child via a web cam. They strike up a relationship. This progresses to getting the child / young person to pose or send images of themselves. This may progress to naked or semi naked images. These images will be stored and shared with other child abusers. The abuser may then start to pressurise the child / young person and blackmail them by threatening to tell parents or share images. This form of abuse usually occurs in private or in semi-public places such as parks, cinemas, cafes and hotels. It is increasingly occurring at ‘parties’ organised by perpetrators for the purposes of giving victims drugs and alcohol before sexually abusing them (Barnardos 2012).
Organised exploitation, gangs and trafficking
Young people can associate with gangs and as a result of their involvement can become involved in offending behaviour and / or sexual exploitation. Sexual violence against females in a gang environment can occur in the following:
Sexually assaulting a young woman associated with a rival gang to disrespect or provoke the gang
Getting females to use their sexuality to set up rival gang males
Sexual assault / abuse as a means of initiation into a gang
Other forms of criminality can occur where victims are trafficked through criminal networks and forced or coerced into sex with multiple men including groups of men. This is serious organised activity.
Whatever their experience, it is important to know that children and young people are not making a free and informed choice. They cannot consent to their own sexual abuse.