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What is Abuse?


Traditionally, discussions regarding sexual topics are considered highly distasteful. Sexual actions of all kinds are not to be spoken about due to a culture of shame, making this an especially challenging topic to tackle in the community.

Sexual abuse is the most hidden and unspoken form of abuse in Somali society. The primary reason it is not widely discussed is that victims are commonly stigmatized, and their victimhood is not recognized by their immediate family or community. Thus, the fear of re-victimization through victim blaming is often too great for the victim to overcome.

Sexual abuse occurs in a variety of forms, including:

  • unwanted touching of any parts of your body (forceful kissing and grabbing)
  • rape
  • using degrading language or making unwanted gestures
  • making sexual comments toward you or others
  • forced to watching inappropriate materials
  • forced a physical examination (to make sure you are still virgin)
  • denial of privacy
  • allegations of cheating and adultery

When one does not consent to a sexual act, then any sexual actions committed are considered sexual abuse. More than anything, sexual abuse is about power and control.



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