If your child has been sexually abused, there will almost always be signs, and it’s best to know what those signs are.
Before you read any further, you must understand that a lot of these signs are very easy to miss and a lot of wonderful parents might even just assume that some of these things are related to another issue. Please do not beat yourself up if you miss or missed the signs, in the event that your child has been sexually abused. They really are easy to miss sometimes.
But, by educating yourself about the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse, you’ll be able to have a better understanding of what to look for.
If you are a bit confused by my post right now, then let me explain. A couple months ago, I began a series about childhood sexual abuse in an effort to educate more about this ever-growing problem in our society. As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I feel very strongly about this and would love to be a voice for all the children who are suffering from this evil.
My original intent was to post about this once per week until the series was over, but I wanted to make sure each post was carefully thought through. So, each post goes up whenever I feel like it is ready. If you don’t want to miss when the next post goes up in the series, then feel free to sign up HERE where you will receive the emails for only the series.
As I look back over my life and what I went through, I see that I displayed several signs and symptoms of the childhood sexual abuse I was enduring. I do not blame my parents for not seeing it. Honestly, they did see some of the signs but they just never really made the connection. They thought that the behavior I was displaying was related to other things.
I love my parents dearly and know that they always took care of us the best way possible. But, when I was younger, childhood sexual abuse didn’t seem as rampant as it is today.
The thought of a man in a church abusing little girls was just almost unheard of. I’m not saying it didn’t happen. It happened to me. I’m just saying that the culture at the time was just less unaware, so there was a lot less education on the topic and a lot less parents who knew or understood what to look for and what it could possibly be linked to.
We are more educated about it now.
There are several signs to be aware of, with some of them being a little more alarming or obvious than others. In an effort to protect your child(ren) from predators, it is also essential to know the signs that something has already happened.
MORE OBVIOUS SIGNS
Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for his or her age. It is important to understand that children become more aware of themselves and their genitals by the age of 2. After that, curiosity grows and they begin wondering about other things. But, there have been guidelines developed that help parents better understand what is acceptable sexual behavior for each age and what is considered outside of the norm. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the NCTSN have excellent resources for what is considered normal sexual behavior in different age groups of children and what is not.
Use of sexual terms or body parts that have not been discussed at home. If your child has started talking about or asking questions regarding sexual things or information beyond their level that you have never mentioned before, it would be wise to investigate a bit further to try to find out the source of this information. On the flip side, if you have always taught your child the proper anatomical names for their private parts (as talked about in a previous post) and your child starts using cutesy names for his or her genitals, red flags should fly up.
An increasing or sudden dislike of a particular person or place. This is crucial to pay attention to. If your child suddenly doesn’t enjoy going to a particular place or hides away from a certain person, pay close attention. If your child starts having massive meltdowns about going somewhere, look into it. It possibly could be that your child is fearful of that person because they are the abuser or the place because that is where the abuse took place (or is taking place). Please don’t shrug your child off if they used to like somebody or a certain place and then end up having an increasing or sudden dislike.
LESS OBVIOUS SIGNS
Nightmares and night terrors. It could just be that your child suffers from nightmares for no explicable reason. But, it also could be that your child has suffered abuse and is battling night terrors because of that. Along these same lines, your child might become terrified of going to sleep. This is one that I particularly remember suffering from. I became incredibly terrified of falling asleep and would sit in the hallway of our second floor and just cry until I was too tired to stay awake.
Urinary tract infections and/or wetting the bed. When a child has been regularly touched sexually, he sometimes becomes “out of touch,” so to speak, with his ability to use the bathroom. Everything has been violated and wetting the bed becomes a problem again. Also, a big thing for girls is urinary tract infections.
Become withdrawn, depressed, angry, agitated, anxious, overly emotional. If your child has been sexually abused, he or she will very likely show signs of emotional distress or attitude changes that are outside the norm for him. It could be that your child is just going through an adjustment period in his life that is affecting his attitude. But, if there seems to be nothing that should be affecting him this way, try to watch more to how he reacts and what he is reacting to. The most common emotional struggles of a sexually abused child are depression, anxiety, and meltdowns/crying about everything or extreme fear of upsetting others.
The above signs are just a few of the signs and symptoms of a child that has been sexually abused, but they are the main ones. I can tell you that I suffered from every single one of these.
Oftentimes, more symptoms sprout up as victims grow older, such as promiscuity, lack of hygeine, eating disorders, self-harm, and the list goes on.
*Please understand that I am not a therapist or an expert on this topic. Much of my writing is based on personal experience and research. For professional information on this topic, please seek help from a therapist or family counselor.
Have you been a victim of childhood sexual abuse or know someone who has? Are there some symptoms and signs that you feel like need to be added to this list?
Missed the rest of the series? Get caught up below!