Did you know that while most children do not talk about it, they have actually experienced sexual abuse? If you do not pay close attention, you will not be able to recognize the behavioral and emotional signs that indicate so. This is because children respond to sexual abuse in different ways. This response is dependent on how old they are, how frequent or severe the abuse is, what is happening during the abuse, who is responsible for it and how much do they trust their parents or caregivers to understand and believe their experience.
We understand that it is not always easy to spot sexual abuse and respond to it appropriately. If your instincts tell you that something isn’t right or someone’s presence is making your child uncomfortable, even if you cannot exactly put your finger on it, trust your gut and continue to watch out for more signs.
How to Recognize Child Sexual Abuse?
Here are some signs that you should look out for as they may indicate that your child is experiencing abuse:
- Your child has started keeping secrets from you.
- They do not want to be left alone with certain people or are generally afraid of being away from you.
- They avoid removing clothes.
- They have started spending increasing amount of time alone.
- They excessively talk about sexual topics which are totally inappropriate for their age.
- There is a drastic change in their eating habit; either they have started overeating or have completely stopped.
- They have become more aggressive.
- You have noticed self-harming behavior in them.
- They are experiencing nightmares and are always scared.
- They have lost interest in school or extra-curricular activities which they once loved.
- You have noticed bruises, unexpected bleeding, blood on their sheets or their undergarments or trauma signs on their genitalia.
How to Respond To Child Sexual Abuse?
If you notice the above signs in your child, it means that they are experiencing or have experience sexual abused. Once you know this, it is important that you respond to it carefully, making sure your child feels loved and supported. Here are some ways you can do that:
Don’t Respond In Anger
Under no circumstances should you get angry at your child for what happened. Remember, your child is already going through a tough time and they need your support and love, more than ever. If you are overwhelmed, take a break and get a hang of your feelings. Visit a therapist and talk to them about ways you can cope up with stress and interact better with your child.
Give Them Love and Attention
Make sure you nurture your child and listen to them. Get involved in their life and develop trust. A supportive and caring family environment can foster a child’s self-esteem and restore their sense of self-worth. It will also encourage them to share their problems with you without being hesitant or shy.
Teach Them the Importance of ‘No’
Child sex abuse victims are often very scared and lack the courage to say ‘no’ even when they are uncomfortable. Teach your child to turn down anything that they do not want to do or are uncomfortable with, even if an adult asks them to do it. Encourage them to leave a scary and threatening situation immediately and seek help from someone they truly trust.
Get Professional Help
You do not have to do everything alone; there are professionals who can help guide you towards safety and healing. If you are too overwhelmed, contact a charitable organization like Sanaa’s Stars and work with experts who dedicate themselves to make a positive impact on sexually abused children’s lives.
Trauma of sexual child abuse can be devastating and have life altering effects on children. It is important that you pay attention to any signs of sexual abuse and respond to them, appropriately. To seek professional help, consult Sanaa’s Stars