This week Imagine Hope is talking about healing from sexual abuse, so I thought it would be important for people to know signs to look for if you think a child has been abused.
The following are some signs that a child has been sexual abused:
- Unusual fears (going to bed, something happening to parents, going places that they aren’t usually afraid of)
- Poor body image (feeling dirty or ugly)
- Sleep disturbance
- Appetite disturbance
- Mood swings
- Unexplained physical complaints
- Behavioral problems
- Excessive masturbation
- Poor social skills
- Depression (withdrawal)
- Bed wetting, wetting or defecating in pants after being fully potty trained
- Afraid to leave parents
- Inappropriate sexual gestures towards others or stuffed animals
- Sexual play with toys
- Sexual or scary drawing and writing
- Physical signs such as discoloration, soreness, discharge, or bleeding in genitals, anus, or mouth
- A sudden increase in money or toys that could be used as bribery
It is important to note that just because a child experiences any of the above does not necessarily mean they have been sexually abused. These are red flags that something may be going on. Please make sure you get help for a child that you suspect may have been abused. Early intervention is best. The longer the child carries the secret and the pain that goes along with it, the harder and longer the recovery will be.
Please contact a professional if you have any other concerns or questions. Helping a child through the healing process is vital to their recovery from this horrible victimization.
Also remember the importance with ALL children of ALL ages to educate them on body safety. Giving them understanding about the issue can empower them and be preventative!
Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC
Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.