Signs Of Sexual Abuse In A Child:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Signs of trauma to the genital area, such as unexplained bleeding, bruising, or blood on the sheets, underwear, or other clothing
- Excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics
- Keeping secrets Not talking as much as usual
- Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers, especially if this is a new behavior
- Regressive behaviors or resuming behaviors they had grown out of, such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting
- Posture change
- Overly compliant behavior
- Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age
- Spending an unusual amount of time alone
- Trying to avoid removing clothing to change or bathe
- Change in eating habits
- Change in mood or personality, such as increased aggression, excessive unusual tantrums.
- Decrease in confidence or self-image
- Excessive worry or fearfulness
- Increase in unexplained health problems such as stomach aches and headaches
- Loss or decrease in interest in school, activities, and friends, which were previously enjoyed.
- Night terrors
- fear of being alone
- Self-harming behaviors
Signs that an adult might be harming your child:
- Does not respect boundaries or listen when someone tells them “no”
- Engages in touching that a child or child’s parents/guardians have indicated is unwanted
- Tries to be a child’s friend rather than filling an adult role in the child’s life
- Does not seem to have age-appropriate relationships (eg: Spending an excessive amount of time with a child / having adult conversations with a child / engaging in activities which are not age-appropriate).
- 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 behaviors
- Restricts a child’s access to other adults
It is important to observe changes in behaviour and follow up on those changes to ascertain their origin. Most behaviour changes are not signs of abuse but can indicate other challenges, such as bullying or drug abuse.