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Can Sexual Abuse Occur Without Physical Touching?

Sexual abuse is not limited to physical contact. Non-physical forms of sexual abuse are just as harmful and devastating, and survivors often struggle to recognize and report them. In this blog post, we will explore what non-physical sexual abuse is, how it can occur, and what survivors can do to protect themselves and seek justice.

What is Non-Physical Sexual Abuse?

Non-physical sexual abuse refers to any sexual behavior or activity that is imposed on a person without their consent or against their will but does not involve physical contact. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Sexual harassment: unwanted sexual advances, comments, or gestures that create a hostile or intimidating environment.
  • Cyberstalking: using technology to harass, intimidate, or control someone, such as sending explicit messages, sharing intimate photos, or tracking their online activity.
  • Coercion: using threats, blackmail, or manipulation to force someone into sexual acts or behaviors.
  • Verbal abuse: using sexual language or insults to degrade, humiliate, or control someone.

Non-physical sexual abuse can occur in any setting, including schools, workplaces, homes, and online platforms. It can affect people of any gender, age, race, or sexual orientation, and can have long-lasting effects on their physical, emotional, and mental health.

Signs and Effects of Non-Physical Sexual Abuse

Non-physical sexual abuse can be difficult to detect and prove, as there may be no visible injuries or physical evidence. However, survivors may exhibit some common signs and effects, such as:

  • Anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sexual dysfunction or avoidance
  • Low self-esteem or self-blame
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek professional help and support.

Legal Remedies for Non-Physical Sexual Abuse

Survivors of non-physical sexual abuse have legal rights and options to hold their abusers accountable and seek compensation for their damages. Depending on the circumstances, they may be able to pursue:

  • Civil lawsuits: filing a lawsuit against the abuser or the institution that allowed the abuse to occur, such as a school or employer, for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Criminal charges: reporting the abuse to law enforcement and pressing criminal charges for offenses such as stalking, harassment, or coercion.
  • Protective orders: obtaining a court order that prohibits the abuser from contacting or approaching the survivor.

It is important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in sexual abuse cases to evaluate your legal options and guide you through the legal process.


Non-physical sexual abuse is a serious and pervasive problem that can have devastating consequences on survivors' lives. By understanding what non-physical sexual abuse is, how it can occur, and what legal remedies are available, survivors can take steps to protect themselves and seek justice. If you or someone you know has been a survivor of non-physical sexual abuse, don't hesitate to reach out for help and support. Denver Trial Lawyers® are here to assist you in your journey toward healing and recovery: (303) 647-9990.