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Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation of adults with care and support needs involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where victims (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. These can include:

  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual harassment
  • Inappropriate looking or touching
  • Sexual teasing or innuendo
  • Sexual photography
  • Any sexual act to which the adult did not consent or was pressured into consenting
  • Any sexual act to which the adult did not consent or was pressured into consenting

Sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the victim’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. Victims can be men or women, and are often isolated and easily drawn into a cycle of abuse and exploitation, including being made to perform sexual acts to which they did not or could not consent.

Sexual exploitation is a subtle but destructive crime that can end up affecting every part of a victim's health, happiness and development. In particular, victims are at risk of:

  • Sexual abuse and/or violence, such as sexual assault or rape
  • Being passed around different people for sexual acts
  • Physical harm - either from other people or from self-harm
  • Substance misuse and/or overdose
  • Mental health problems
  • Suicide attempts
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Isolation from family and friends

Adults with care and support needs and their families often require a range of support services, sometimes over a long period of time, to assist them to overcome the impact of abuse and exploitation. For these reasons, sexual exploitation is a priority for Southend SAB, and the Board is working with its sister boards in Essex and Thurrock to produce a co-ordinated response.

If a report of sexual exploitation of an adult is received, the case passes first to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Detective Inspector or Detective Constable for investigation. If they feel that the criteria for exploiting an adult with additional care or support needs are met, the case will also be referred to the Safeguarding Adults Team at the Local Authority.