Children usually do not tell that they have been sexually abused. Hence, the physical and emotional signs and changes are to be noticed and taken care of.
Children respond to sexual abuse differently. Many things like age, frequency and severity of the abuse and the abuser influence the response of the child. Most importantly, the response of the child depends on who is doing the abuse. Mostly, the abuser is from within the family or known to the family.
Some children show only very subtle signs and some might not show any sign at all. However, certain signs are found in common in many cases. Hence, it is important to consider the signs as a possibility as the presence of one or more signs means that he/she has been sexually abused.
Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children aged 0-11 years
Emotional
Becomes silent or more distant than usual
Cries for no reason
Starts to wet the bed
Becomes aggressive or seems angry for no obvious reasons
Complains of pain in tummy and head in the absence of physical sign of sickness
Starts having nightmares
Behavioural
Is not interested in playing or is avoiding a particular place or people
Is having problems in sleeping
Not performing well in school
Problematic sexual behaviour
Physical
Swelling or redness in the genital area
Pain when going for toilet
Difficulty in sitting or walking
Bruises on soft parts of the body
Symptoms of urinary tract infection, sexually transmitted infection
Signs in Teenagers
Emotional
Aggressive and gets angry for no reason
Head/ stomach ache without any physical illness
Upset when a particular person or place is mentioned
Has trouble in developing/ maintaining relationships
Feeling of low self-esteem and has nightmares
Behavioural
Dressing differently
Gifts from unknown sources
Showing problematic sexual behaviour
Involvement in alcohol/drugs
Erratic driving
Self-harming behaviour
Less eating and more time in secretive online communications
Sleep disorder
Social Life
Spending time in isolation
Changed friendship group
Avoiding a particular person/place
Low performance in school
Physical
Swelling/ redness in the genital area
Pain when going to the toilet
Difficulty in sitting/ walking
Missing periods
Our society should be more aware and parents should be more careful whilst noticing any unusual changes in the behaviour of their child. Only awareness, education and a friendly family atmosphere can save our children from abuse and exploitation.