What to Look for in Sexual Abuse VictimsNovember 22, 2021
According to a 2019 study, 86% of females and 53% of males in California reported experiencing some kind of sexual abuse in their lifetime. It’s also crucial to note that sadly, sexual abuse in minors is far more common than we realize – approximately 1 in 10 kids would experience sexual abuse by the time they reach 18 years old.
But sexual abuse survivors might not say that they have been sexually abused. Rather, you might see some telltale signs, which usually include changes in their emotions and behaviors. If you notice the following signs below, it does not automatically mean that someone has been sexually abused.
Remember that a person’s behavior could change for various reasons, but it’s also crucial to consider the possibility of sexual abuse.
Behaviors and Signs Common in Sexually Abused Kids and Adolescents
- Seeming distant or distracted at odd times
- Suddenly fearing touching
- Having sleep problems or nightmares without a clear explanation
- Refusing to eat
- Sudden changes to their eating habits, such as refusing to eat or a drastically increased appetite
- Sudden mood swings, including withdrawal, insecurity, fear, rage, etc.
- Dreaming, playing, drawing, or writing about frightening or sexual images
- Leaving clues that would most likely provoke a conversation about sexual matters
- Developing unusual or new fear of specific places or people
- Refusing to speak about a secret they share with an older child or adult
- Speaking about a new friend who’s usually significantly older than them
- Suddenly has toys, money, or other gifts from someone they don’t want to talk about
- Thinking of body or self as bad, dirty, or repulsive
- Exhibiting sexual knowledge, language, and behaviors
Behaviors and Signs Common in Sexually Abused Teens and Adults
- Self-harming, like cutting and burning
- Insufficient personal hygiene
- Sexual promiscuity
- Alcohol and/or drug abuse
- Anxiety, depression
- Running away
- Suicide attempts
- Compulsive dieting or eating
- Fear of closeness or intimacy
Behaviors and Signs Common in Younger Sexually Abused Kids
- Calls body parts using new words
- An older kid behaving like a younger kid, like thumb sucking or bedwetting
- Asks other kids to play sexual games or behave sexually
- Resists removing their clothing even at appropriate times like diapering, toileting, or bathing
- Soiling or wetting accidents that are not linked to toilet training
- Copies adult sexual behaviors using stuffed animals or toys
Physical Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse
While usually rare, consult with your pediatrician if you see the following signs:
- Recurring or persistent pain during bowel movements, urination, or when sitting down
- Discharge, bleeding, discoloration, and/or pain in the genitals, mouth, or anus
Consequences of sexual abuse could include not only physical injuries but also other medical issues, poor mental health, reduced quality of life, lost work productivity, and even death. Likewise, sexually abused kids have an increased risk of being victimized again in the future.
Reach Out to a Skilled Santa Barbara Sexual Abuse Attorney Today
If your or someone you love has suffered from sexual abuse, the compassionate and skilled Santa Barbara sexual abuse attorneys of Bamieh & De Smeth are ready to help you in any way we can. Please do not hesitate to call us at 805-643-5555 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our sexual abuse attorneys today.