Physical/Behavioral Signs a Child
May Have Been Sexually Abused

Behavioral signs:
Some of these signs can show up at other stressful times such as divorce, a death in the family, or when there are problems in school as well as when sexual abuse is involved. Any one sign doesn’t mean the child was abused, but several of them mean that you should begin asking questions.

Nightmares, trouble sleeping, fear of the dark, or other sleeping problems.

Extreme fear of “monsters.”

Spacing out at odd times.

Loss of appetite, or trouble eating or swallowing.

Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, anger, or withdrawal.

Fear of certain people or places.

Stomach illness all of the time with no identifiable reason.

An older child behaving like a younger child such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking.

Sexual activities with toys or other children.

New words for private body parts.

Talking about a new older friend.
Physical signs:

Unexplained bruises, redness, or bleeding of the child’s genitals, anus, or mouth.

Pain at the genitals, anus, or mouth

Genital sores or milky fluids in the genital area.
Source: Because There Is A Way to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Facts About Abuse and Those Who Might Commit It, STOP IT NOW (2002)

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