The Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children & Teens
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 have been subjected to sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. With such shockingly high statistics, it is important to learn the warning signs of abuse in order to protect children and teens who need help.
In light of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are some tips to help you identify the potential warning signs of sexual abuse in children and teens.
Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare. This is because adults abusing a minor may take extra precautions not to leave evidence of abuse. However, when there are physical signs, they may include:
Bruising, redness, or bleeding around the mouth, genitals, or anus
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Pain during urination or bowel movements
Restroom accidents unrelated to potty training
Intense stomach pains
Behavioral and Emotional Signs
Behavioral signs of abuse are more common and noticeable than physical signs. Some behaviors that may suggest sexual abuse include:
- Being afraid to be away from their parents or caregivers
- Talking less often than usual
- Avoiding removing clothes or bathing
- Spending more time alone
- Avoiding being alone with certain people
- Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for their age
- Excessive knowledge about sexual topics for their age
- Changes in their eating habits
- Being overly-compliant
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Disinterest in school and extracurricular activities
- Symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Increased moodiness
- Anger and aggression
- Poor self-esteem
What to Do if You Notice Warning Signs
While it is important to note that the above warning signs don’t always point to sexual abuse, it’s still important for you to act if you suspect it anyway. Rather than waiting for “proof” of abuse, try reaching out to your local sexual assault services. You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).
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