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Changes your child may exhibit if sexually abused

On Behalf of | Aug 28, 2023 | Sexual Abuse |

No parent ever wants to imagine their child going through this kind of trauma, yet understanding potential warning signs of sexual abuse can be important for a child’s safety and well-being. Do not turn a blind eye because you do not think it could happen to your child.

Recognizing these signs early on might help stop the abuse and provide your child with the support they need.

Behavioral modifications

One of the most noticeable shifts you may see in your child is a change in their behavior. They might become withdrawn, show a sudden fear of specific places or people or regress in behaviors they had previously outgrown, such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking. Some children may have trouble sleeping or experience nightmares, while others might display aggressive behavior or act out in ways they previously did not.

Shifts in school performance

A child who once loved school might start to dread it or their grades might drop. They could also become more distracted or have difficulty concentrating, which can reflect in their schoolwork.

Emotional and mood variations

Emotionally, your child may become more anxious, depressed or exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. You might see them jump or startle easily or become unusually clingy. Some children might express feelings of guilt, shame or confusion, especially if the abuser is someone they know and trust.

Changes in relationships

Your child might avoid friends they once played with or show an unusual fear of being alone with adults, especially those of a particular gender. They might also talk about a new, older friend or display knowledge of sexual topics that are not age-appropriate.

Physical differences

Physical signs to watch out for include unexplained bruises, bleeding or infections in the genital area, as well as complaints of pain or discomfort during urination or bowel movements.

If you notice any of these signs in your child, approach the situation with sensitivity and care. Create a safe environment for them, listen without judgment and believe them when they speak.  Seek professional help, such as therapists or counselors who specialize in trauma, to support both you and your child during such a challenging time.