About sexual abuse

What is sexual abuse?

All sexual acts that are against your will are classified as sexual abuse. No one else but you decide what is against your will. It may look and feel different, but it’s always you who decides what feels okay. Sexual abuse is a crime according to UN, and in Sweden, it’s against the law to abuse someone sexually. Even though what you have been through doesn’t lead to a conviction, you might feel violated anyway. We treat our patients equally, regardless if you have told anyone or not, if you have filed a police report or not, or if you had a verdict of acquittal or a conviction.

Examples of sexual abuse:

  • Someone touches your body against your will, or in a way that you don’t like.
  • Someone comments on your body or talks to you in a sexual way against your will.
  • Being forced to have sexual intercourse, or having to satisfy another person’s sexual needs.
  • Being forced to witness sexual acts.
  • Being forced to watch porn.
  • Someone does something sexually towards you when you can’t protect yourself or express your will. For example, because you are drunk, drugged, asleep, ill or have a disability.
  • Someone who uses their power and takes advantage of you and makes you perform sexual acts.
  • To be photographed or filmed in a sexual manner, if it’s against your will or if you are under 15 years old.
  • Someone tries to buy or exchange sexual acts with money, presents, alcohol, services etc.


What is a sex crime according to the Swedish law?

The Swedish legislation is built on the premise that every individual, always and in every situation, has the right to decide over his or her own body. You have the right to say no to anything that others want to do with your body, without explaining why. In the legal concept of sexual crimes, we include rape, aggravated rape, child rape, sexual coercion, sexual exploitation, sexual molestation, the purchase of sexual services and procuring amongst other. Below you’ll find a summary of the various sexual crimes.



A rape occurs when someone takes advantage of a person who is in a particularly vulnerable situation. It occurs when someone uses abuse, violence, or threats (of violence or hurting someone you know or destroying something). Finally, it occurs when someone penetrates another person vaginally, anally or orally with their genitals or with, for example, fingers or objects, or touches the other person’s body with their genitals.

A vulnerable situation is, for example:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Sleep
  • Fearing for one’s life
  • Intoxication or being under the influence of drugs
  • Illness
  • Bodily wound
  • Physical injury
  • Mental disorder
  • Other circumstances

A rape can be classified as rape, less aggravated rape and aggravated rape. If the rape is considered less aggravated or aggravated depends on the level of violence or threats, how many people participated in the assault or if there were actions that demonstrated particular ruthlessness or brutality.

A rape can give between 2 to 10 years in prison, depending on how aggravated it was.

The limitation period for rape (the time that can pass before you report a crime) is between 10-15 years. For adults, the limitation period begins on the day of the crime. For children, the limitation period begins to run when the child becomes an adult and turns 18 years old. That means that if a person is raped as a child, he or she can report it up until they reach the age of 33.


Child rape

It is considered child rape when someone penetrates a child under the age of 15 through vaginal, anal or oral sex with his or her genitals, fingers or objects, or touches the child’s body with their genitals. No physical abuse, violence or threats are required for someone to be convicted of child rape.

It is also considered child rape when a legal guardian or a person who has a similar relationship to the child, penetrates a child between 15-18 years through vaginal, anal or oral sex with his or her genitals, fingers or objects, or touches the child’s body with their genitals.

Child rape can be judged as child rape or aggravated child rape. A child rape is considered aggravated if:

  • The perpetrator used violence or threat of criminal acts.
  • The perpetrator is related to the child.
  • The perpetrator has taken advantage of his or her position or trust.
  • Several people has abused the child.
  • The action can be considered reckless.

Child rape gives at least two and a maximum of six years in prison. The penalty for aggravated child rape is at least four and a maximum of ten years imprisonment.

The limitation period is 10-15 years, and begins from the child’s 18th birthday.


Sexual assault

Touching a child under 15 in a sexual way, or inducing a child under 15 to engage in an act that has a sexual meaning, is a sexual assault. It’s also a sexual assault to expose yourself to anyone, or through other actions or words that violate someone’s sexual integrity. Sexual molestation can give a maximum of two years imprisonment and the statute of limitations for sexual assault is five years.


Sexual coercion

Sexual coercion is when anyone by force performs a sexual act. Coercion also means taking advantage of someone in a vulnerable situation (see the list of examples above). It can also be abuse, violence or threats. The penalty for sexual coercion is imprisonment for, at the most, two years. For aggravated sexual coercion, the penalty is imprisonment between six months and six years.


If you are a perpetrator you can get help from Preventell. By taking yourself seriously and searching for help for a behavior that hurts others, you work for a world without sexual abuse.