LEARN THE SIGNS
Children most often do not talk about sexual abuse because they think it is their fault or they have been convinced by their abuser that it is normal or their very own “secret”.
Children may also be bribed or threatened by their abuser, or told they will not be believed.
A child who is being sexually abused may care for their abuser and worry about getting them into trouble. Hence you must make sure that children around you know that they can trust you and depend on you for help.
Here are some of the signs you may notice:
- 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
- Bruising, swelling, tears or cuts on genitals or anus
- Torn, stained or bloody clothes especially underwear
- Pain or itching in the genital area, difficulty going to the bathroom, walking or sitting
- Sexually transmitted diseases, especially in pre-adolescent children
- A child may start being aggressive, withdrawn, clingy, have difficulties sleeping, have regular nightmares or start wetting the bed
- The child may dislike or seem afraid of a particular person and try to avoid spending time alone with them
- They may behave in sexually inappropriate ways or use sexually explicit language.
- An abused child will have problems in school like may having the difficulty in concentrating and learning, and as a result, their grades may start to drop
- Children may also drop hints and clues that the abuse is happening without revealing it outright, like by creating poems, stories etc. about it
- Withdrawn from family members with a preference to be alone
- Afraid to carry out daily activities they do not usually have trouble with
Eg : going to school, going in the bus
- Changes in communication- Some children may even stop speaking or communicate by drawing violent art
- Children will neglect taking care of themselves
Eg : will not wash or shower, wear the same clothes for days
- Changes in personality.
Eg : quiet child may become more social unlike before
- Suicidal behaviour
- Problems with eating, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa
- Alcohol and/or drug abuse
Signs that an adult is sexually abusing a child
Offenders gradually initiate and maintain sexual relationships with victims in secrecy by “grooming” the child. On the surface, grooming a child can look like a close relationship between the offending adult, the child and potentially the child’s caregivers.
- Tries to be a child’s friend rather than filling an adult role in the child’s life
- Talks with children about their personal problems or relationships
- Spends time alone with children outside of their role in the child’s life or makes up excuses to be alone with the child
- Expresses unusual interest in child’s sexual development, such as commenting on sexual characteristics or sexualizing normal behavior
- Buying child expensive gifts or giving them money for no reason.
- Treating a certain child differently than others, treating them as their “favourite” or special.
- Walking in on child/teenager in the bathroom.
- Often offering to baby-sit or take child on overnight trips
- Restricts a child’s access to other adults