Recognizing the Signs and Helping Victims of Child Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is a subject that is discussed the least when talking about abuse among children. Physical and emotional abuse are talked about the most. Child sexual abuse is often brushed under the carpet by most parents and families. It has very low rates of reporting and even lower rates of counseling and treatment. But it is probably the worst kind of abuse a child can go through, mainly because most are too young to understand what is happening, and are too scared of the pain and threats to speak up.
Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in children
This is the first and most important step in helping sexually abused kids. They might not be able to speak up and tell you what is happening. But there will be enough signs, their way of showing something is wrong and asking for help, if you look close enough.
- Depression, anxiety or excessive unexplained aggressiveness.
- Sudden fear of certain people or places.
- Bed-wetting, thumb-sucking and other such regressive behavior among older kids who have already grown out of them.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Explicit sexual behavior and language.
- Physical injuries, bruising or bleeding of genitals.
If you notice any of these signs in your child or any child that you are around, there is a good possibility they are being sexually abused.
Helping sexually abused children
As soon as you have a suspicion that a child is being abused or notice any of the above signs and symptoms, make sure that you do not ignore the situation. A few steps you can take to help the child:
- Talk to the child but do not push or force them to tell you anything. They need to take their own time in expressing themselves.
- Let the child know you trust them and what they say. Do not deny or reject anything they tell you, however believable or unbelievable it may be for you.
- Make them understand that they are not at fault and have not made a mistake.
- Reassure the child that they are now safe and have no need to fear you. Do not touch or hold them unless they make the first move.
- Report the abuse immediately to child protection services or to the local police.
Child sexual abuse is an extremely serious and delicate issue that needs to be dealt with very carefully to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Need more help?
The therapists at Agor Behavioral Health Services are available to assist children who have been victimized by sexual abuse. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a free 20 minute consultation to discuss your situation. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-621-5824 or send us a message.