Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Do you think that you would recognize
the signs of childhood sexual abuse?

Warning Signs in Children and Adolescents 
of Possible Child Sexual Abuse

Any one sign doesn't mean that a child was sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you begin asking questions and consider seeking help. Keep in mind that some of these signs can emerge at other times of stress such as:
                During a divorce
                Death of a family member or pet
                Problems at school or with friends
                Other anxiety-inducing or traumatic events

Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent
• Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
• Seems distracted or distant at odd times
• Has a sudden change in eating habits
o Refuses to eat
o Loses or drastically increases appetite
o Has trouble swallowing.

• Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
• Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
• Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
• Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
• Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
• Talks about a new older friend
• Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
• Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
• Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge

Signs more typical of younger children
An older child behaving like a younger child
(such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
Has new words for private body parts
Resists removing clothes when appropriate times
(bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Signs more typical in adolescents
                Self-injury (cutting, burning)
                Inadequate personal hygiene
                Drug and alcohol abuse
                Sexual promiscuity
                Running away from home
                Depression, anxiety
                Suicide attempts
                Fear of intimacy or closeness
                Compulsive eating or dieting

Physical warning signs
Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare. If you see these signs, bring your child to a doctor. Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.

  •   Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
  •   Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
  •   Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

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