Understanding Trauma & Violence


Is it sexual assault if an adult touches another adult's private parts without consent, but as a joke or to upset them rather than for sexual reasons? Also, is it considered sexual assault or COCSA (child-on-child sexual abuse) if a young child pressures another child into sexual acts to bully them, rather than for explicitly sexual reasons?


Thank you for these important questions. They highlight complex issues regarding consent, intent, and the definition of sexual assault.

Regarding the first scenario involving adults:

Any non-consensual touching of private parts is generally considered sexual assault, regardless of the intent behind it. The key factor here is the lack of consent, not the motivation of the person doing the touching. Whether it's done as a joke, to upset someone, or for sexual gratification, touching someone's private parts without their permission is a violation of bodily autonomy and can be deeply distressing for the person who experienced it.

It's crucial to understand that the impact on the person who experienced it is what matters most, not the intent of the person committing the act. Even if meant as a joke, such actions can cause significant trauma and are legally and ethically unacceptable. Only the person who experienced these acts, however, can truly label them. They are the expert of their own experiences.

Regarding the second scenario involving children:

When it comes to children, the situation is complex but equally serious. Child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA) does not require the perpetrator to have explicitly sexual intent. If a child is pressuring another child into sexual acts, even if the primary motivation is to bully or upset them, it is still considered a form of sexual abuse.

The key factors here are:
1. The sexual nature of the acts
2. The element of coercion or pressure
3. The lack of informed consent (children cannot give informed consent to sexual acts)

The intent of the child doing the pressuring doesn't change the fact that sexual abuse is occurring. Whether driven by curiosity, a desire to exert power, or an attempt to bully, such behavior is harmful and requires intervention.

It's important to note that in cases of COCSA, both children involved need help and support. The child exhibiting sexually harmful behavior may themselves be a victim of abuse or may not understand the gravity of their actions.

If you or someone you know has experienced something like this, it's important to seek support. This could involve reaching out to a trusted adult, a counselor, or a sexual assault helpline. Remember, it's never the fault of the person who experienced these acts that these things happened to them. Thank you again for asking these questions.

Safety Exit