Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children

Published On: March 29, 2021Categories: Mental Health

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

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

  • Headaches

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
  • Bedwetting
  • 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
  • Self-harming
  • 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).

Mental Health Treatment in North Carolina

At Tapestry, our treatment programs are designed to provide our clients with individualized care while acknowledging their unique life experiences. Our staff members are dedicated to understanding and treating our clients as whole people.

Whether you have questions about mental health or how to support a loved one struggling with mental illness, we are here for you. Contact us today by filling out a confidential form or give us a call at (828) 490-4032.

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