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Beginning to Heal from Child Sexual Abuse
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What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse is an abuse of power over a child or teen and a betrayal of trust.  Child sexual abuse occurs when a child or teenager is forced or tricked into sexual activity by a teenager or adult. 

Child sexual abuse can be physical, visual and verbal.  Some examples include: sexual touching, oral-genital contact, rape, incest, any penetration with objects or body parts, making a child touch someone else’s private parts or play sexual (“pants down”) games, exposing private parts to a child, showing pornography/making child watch sexual acts, taking sexual pictures, watching a child undress or go to the bathroom and obscene/sexual language. 

Did you know?

  • In 85% of sexual abuse situations children and teens are sexually abused by someone they know and trust.
  • 1in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused by the time they reach age 18.
  • Approximately 1/3 of all juvenile victims of sexual abuse are children younger than 6 yrs. of age.
  • Children who grow up in a family where there is domestic violence are 8 times more likely to be sexually molested within that family.
  • 70% of child sex offenders had between one and nine victims, 23% had ten to forty victims.
  • Fabricated sexual abuse reports constitute 1 to 4 % of cases reported.

Possible Signs of Abuse

You may see behavioral or physical signs that a child has been sexually abused.  Remember that a child could show few or no signs and have experienced abuse

Behavioral Signs:

  • Knows more than normal about sex for their age
  • Masturbates excessively
  • Fear of touch
  • Bed wetting and nightmare
  • Change in eating habits
  • Sleeping problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Attention seeking
  • Depressed
  • Self-mutilation
  • Suicidal
  • Drug/alcohol problems
  • Problems at school or frequent absences
  • Sexually abuses others
  • Stories about a “friend” being abused

Physical Signs:

  • Evidence of tenderness, pain or injury in private parts or mouth
  • Symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STI)
  • Pregnancy

It is important to remember that each child responds to abuse differently.  None of the signs or behaviors is a definite sign that abuse has happened.  These signs and behaviors are warning us that something in the child’s life has created enough stress to change their behavior.


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