Signs of sexual abuse

Monday, August 4th 2008, 12:05 pm
By: News 9

Often in the news you'll hear of sexual abuse cases, and to protect the victim's identity, you never hear the story from the perspective of the abused. But this week, we spoke to an 18 year old girl who was brave enough to share her story. And it's given our viewers a chance to hear what the girl had to go through to heal. She credits the counseling and various therapies at Bethesda, an organization in Norman, for her successful recovery. Be sure to watch, "Organization aids abused children, offers support" on the Making a Difference page.

Meanwhile, here is a list of indicators of possible sexual abuse, per Bethesda, Inc. Please remember that these physical and behavioral indicators may be due to another reason.

Physical Indicators:

  • Difficulty urinating or having bowel movements
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Tearing, stains or blood on a child's underclothing
  • Genital or anal bruises, fissures and lacerations
  • Frequent vaginal infections
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or yeast infections
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pain or itching in the genital area
  • Physical complaints, such as headaches and stomachaches

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Verbal statements by the child
  • Acting out or passive withdrawal/depression
  • Persistent and inappropriate sexual play with toys, animals or peers
  • Detailed and unexplained sexual knowledge beyond age expectations
  • Seductive, precocious sexual behavior and gender confusion
  • Aggressive sexual behavior, especially in boy victims
  • Excessive, persistent public masturbation
  • Disturbances in eating patterns (i.e. binge eating, loss of appetite, gagging, hoarding food)
  • Disturbances in toileting patterns (i.e. wetting/soiling themselves)
  • Disturbances in sleep patterns (i.e. nightmares, night terrors, fear of the dark, fear of being alone in bedroom, wanting to sleep with a parent)
  • Extraordinary fear of the same sex adults, baby-sitters, etc.
  • Unexplained and unusually intensive guardedness, mistrust, clinging and watchfulness
  • Role reversal, overly concerned for siblings
  • Regression: Returning to earlier behaviors that have been outgrown
  • Outbursts and tantrums, irritability
  • "Fragile" feelings (i.e. hurt easily, quick to cry)
  • Nervous behavior, worry
  • Bedwetting or thumb sucking
  • Poor self-esteem, self-devaluation, lack of confidence
  • Suicide attempts (especially teens)
  • Sudden difficulties in school
  • Threatened by physical contact or closeness

And if you'd like to know more about Bethesda, visit