Look around an elementary school classroom with twenty students, split half and half between boys and girls. At least one of the boys and two of the girls will be targeted for sexual abuse before the age of eighteen. It’s one of the worst things that can happen to your child, and the hardest to spot as a parent if you don’t know what to look for.
Whether you’re concerned for your child’s safety now or trying to find hints in your past, you need to know about these signs of sexual abuse.
What Is Childhood Sexual Abuse?
When most think of childhood sexual abuse, they jump right to the terrifying specter of rape, most often committed by a stranger. Sadly, the reality is that, if physical sexual abuse occurred, it happened with a close family friend or a family member. While physical attempted or completed sex acts are what most think of, there are many types of childhood sexual abuse.
Non-physical forms of this heinous act may include taking sexual pictures of the child. They may also be forcibly exposed to pornography or sexual harassment. A child may also be groomed into a partner by a much older adult even without physical acts taking place.
Common Signs of Sexual Abuse
There are many common signs of sexual abuse in childhood, some obvious, some less so. If you suspect that you were sexually abused in the past, or that your child is facing sexual abuse now, keep an eye out for the following:
- Inappropriate levels of sexual knowledge for the child’s age
- Bruising, bleeding, scratches, or other injuries near genitals
- Extreme tension around a specific person or family member inexplicable by other causes
- Withdrawal from their support circle and previously enjoyed activities
- Sudden, drastic changes in behavior, including hypersexuality and defiance
If you notice any of these sexual abuse symptoms, it may be time to have a conversation with your child or therapist.
What To Do If You Were Sexually Abused
If you were sexually abused years ago, your options for criminal punishment may be limited. However, getting a trauma-specialized therapist may be able to help you work through the lingering effects of the abuse.
If your child is dealing with sexual abuse right now, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against the offending party. Be warned, it may be an uphill battle, especially if the abuser holds a position of power. But justice for your child demands no less than the utmost dedication. You can find more info here on what to expect if you file a lawsuit.
Above All Else, Listen to Your Child
One of the most common signs of sexual abuse is an outright attempt to speak to a parent or authority figure about it. If your child comes to you accusing a friend or family member, don’t let your past with those people cloud your judgment. Listen to your child and believe them. You’ll spare them the pain of enduring the abuse alone if you do.
If you need more education on subjects like this, look through our blog for more articles like this one, and stay informed.