IDENTIFYING POSSIBLE SIGNS OF ABUSE

Children Cannot Be Held Responsible For Their Own Safety

Childhood should be about so many amazing things. Sure there will be trials and tribulations that they will work through, but sexual abuse should not be one of them.
It is our responsibility to educate ourselves to better identify possible abuse. Often the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse are also associated with other issues that may affect a child during different phases of life.

The important thing is to not rule out sexual abuse when we notice a change in behavior, and to not be afraid to ask, even if everything seems fine. 

Physical Signs  

There are usually no physical signs of sexual abuse that are visible to those other than the victim. Often physical signs would only be noticed on the youngest victims – infants.

However, you or your doctor may notice or a child may complain of:

  • Bruising of the soft or hard palate if the child was forced to perform fellatio.
  • Redness, bruising, tearing or swelling of genitalia or anus.
  • Trouble sitting or walking.
  • Yeast infection, bleeding, urinary tract infection (frequent/painful urination), sexually transmitted disease, or rash.
  • Pregnancy.

Physical Signs For Older Children

If the sexual abuse is causing anxiety for the victim, they may begin to complain of headaches, stomach aches. These symptoms are often over-looked and a child may be thought to be faking or pretending, or it may just be considered a chronic ailment.

Behavioral/Emotional

  • Fear of being left alone or around a specific person, or gender (ex. young children that fear men).
  • Demanding extreme privacy while changing, bathing etc. Not wanting people to see their bodies. May wear extra clothing.
  • Talking about or using sexual terms that are beyond their age.
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • Sexual aggression toward younger or smaller children.
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior – exposing private parts, acting out sexually on other people or with objects. May draw or play with dolls acting out sexual behavior.
  • Masturbating multiple times per day and/or engages in thrusting motions while masturbating.
  • Sexual promiscuity.

Changes in Behavior 

  • Moodiness, withdrawal, acting out, becoming violent or destructive, running away, self abuse, or making self-demeaning remarks
  • Acting “too perfect” – doing everything they’re told without question
  • Very attached and/or obedient to a specific person
  • Nightmares, bed-wetting when it wasn’t an issue before
  • Thumb-sucking or other self-soothing methods
  • Eating disorders – overeating or bulimia/anorexia
  • Change in school grades – studying/focusing more than usual or neglecting classwork/skipping school
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse

 

Sections on this page have been adapted from TheMamaBearEffect.

Posted in abuse-in-children.

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