Telling about sexual abuse is extremely difficult for most children. They are afraid and often don’t know how to tell about what has happened to them. Sometimes they have been bribed or threatened or made to feel responsible for their abuse.

No one wants to believe that sexual abuse could happen to their own child. The tragedy is that it can happen to anyone’s child. While the presence of any one of the signs listed below does not necessarily indicate abuse, don’t ignore the presence of several of the signs. Talk to your child, but be careful not to ask leading questions. If you are uncertain about what you are noticing or are unsure about how to talk with your child about your concerns, contact the Crisis Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-232-8519. Don’t dismiss your concerns or fears. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

It is very important to find a therapist for your child if you discover that he/she has been sexually abused. Be sure that the therapist you select has experience with sexual abuse issues. And don’t forget about yourself and the rest of your family. When sexual abuse happens, it effects the entire family; everyone will need support.

The following are some of the most common signs or symptoms of child sexual abuse:

  • acting out sexual behavior
  • inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts and language
  • excessive touching of genitals
  • sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or urinary infections
  • chronic stomach aches, vomiting
  • an abrupt change in personality or behavior
  • nightmares, bed-wetting
  • drastic change in appetite
  • self-mutilation
  • withdrawal/depression
  • regressive behavior such as thumb-sucking
  • consistently anxious, fearful, irritable
  • reluctance to be with a particular person or in a particular place
  • over compliance
  • elective mutism
  • excessive aggression (particularly in boys)
  • running away, stealing, lying
  • early arrival at school or reluctance to go home
  • early use of drugs or alcohol

Additional Signs May Be Present In Older Children:

  • drug and alcohol use
  • delinquency
  • running away
  • depression
  • early sexual involvement
  • promiscuity
  • suicide attempts
  • eating disorders (anorexia/bulimia)