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Signs your child has suffered from sexual abuse

Parenting By Esther Muchene
Children who have suffered abuse are often withdrawn (Photo: Shutterstock)

Sexual abuse is one of the most traumatic things to happen to a child. During those tender ages, such experiences can damage their lives for a very long time.

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The physical and psychological results of the abuse can cause deep mental health problems that interfere with daily living. No parent would wish for their child to go through this but it unfortunately happens to many of them.

The signs of sexual abuse in a child may manifest in different ways. Some signs are direct but in other cases, discreet. There are so many kids who look okay but deep down they’re suffering in silence.

Here is a guide on what to look out for. 

  1. They’re uncomfortable around a certain people

A child will never feel settled when they’re around their abuser. They’ll even do everything they can to avoid being left alone in the same room with that person. If your child who is normally jovial suddenly withdraws when a certain person walks into the room, there could be something wrong. Be keen enough to notice such patterns.

  1. They have physical signs of abuse 

Be on the lookout for any genital cuts, bruises, bleeding or tears. Your child might even be sore and show signs of sensitivity during your usual bath routine. Sometimes the physical trauma is so bad that they can barely walk or sit down comfortably. These are alarming signs and you should immediately take action.

ALSO READ: Seven children abused daily in times of coronavirus

If your child says that someone has touched them, investigate (Photo: Shutterstock)
  1. They show behavioural changes 

Behavioral changes are part of the psychological trauma they are experiencing. Some common traits associated with abuse are anger or aggressiveness, hypersensitivity and anxiety, sleep problems, poor performance in school, increased withdrawal and lack of interest in things they would normally love. Basically, any unusual pattern in their behavior should be looked into.

  1. They’ll tell you or someone else about the abuse 

If your child directly tells you that someone has touched them, believe them. If your child disclosed that information to someone else and they come to tell you about it, believe them. When they tell you about it don’t defend the abuser. Your support is fragile at this point so they need to be your first priority.

  1. They might give clues 

Some kids won’t directly talk about the abuse but will give away that something is amiss through the clues they give. They might give hypothetical situations that suggest abuse or draw pictures that depict abuse. Parents are always told that they need to spend time with their children and give them full attention because that’s the only way to notice when something is off.

Sexual abuse can take place in the hands of relatives or caregivers you’ve trusted. Although you might not be able to be with your kids all the time, you can put measures in place like nanny cameras for extra security. Other important steps you can take are paying for their self-defense classes just in case and educate them on the importance of speaking up. Another important aspect is to teach them about good and bad touch from an early age.


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