Signs Your Child May Be the Victim of Sexual Abuse

Signs Your Child May Be the Victim of Sexual AbuseAccording to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, & Incest Network), the government responds to a child sexual abuse report about every nine minutes. This is extremely alarming, but it is important to know and understand how often sexual abuse occurs among children, because the signs are not always easy to identify.

Signs of sexual abuse among young children (ages 0-11 years old)

Emotional signs

  • Signs of withdrawal
  • Unprompted crying
  • Co-dependency
  • Nightmares
  • Aggression
  • Sudden interest in secrets
  • Refusal to talk

Behavioral signs

  • Refusing to engage with other children
  • Avoidance of people/places
  • Regressive behaviors, like be-wetting or thumb-sucking
  • Acting out sexual behavior
  • Poor grades
  • Difficult sleeping
  • Complains of pain

Physical signs

  • Redness or swelling around the genitals
  • STDs
  • Painful urination or defecation
  • Bruising around their thighs
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Constant bathing or refusal to bathe at all

Any traumatic experience can trigger these types of responses in children. You should schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor if you notice any combination of these behaviors.

Signs of sexual abuse among teenagers (ages 12-18)

Emotional signs

  • Aggression or anger
  • Random violent outbursts
  • Sudden, unprompted crying
  • Anxiety/anxious behaviors
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Nightmares

Behavioral signs

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sudden secretive behavior/demands for secrecy chatting with or texting
  • Changes in dress
  • Changes in eating
  • Changes in hygiene
  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Problematic sexual behaviors
  • Poor grades

Physical signs

  • Redness or swelling around the genitals
  • STDs
  • Painful urination or defecation
  • Bruising around their thighs
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Constant bathing or refusal to bathe at all
  • Missed menstrual cycles

There are some “social” signs, too, that may be more apparent for older children. If they suddenly have new friends and new interests, or start withdrawing from everyone, it could be a sign of abuse. You may also notice they have items you didn’t purchase, like clothes, jewelry, or electronics.

Some of the signs mentioned above are easier to identify than others. Depending on the age of your child, he or she may have difficulty verbalizing what is happening, or the circumstances surrounding the abuse. Kids often internalize the guilt and shame of sexual assault. (To be fair, many adult survivors do this as well.) Other children may avoid disclosure because they have been threatened by their abuser in some way. According to the YWCA, 93 percent of children know their abuser, which may make it even more difficult for children to disclose.

That is why, as a parent or caregiver, the best thing you can do is to listen to your gut. You know your child. If you believe something is “off” but you are not sure what it is, consider looking for the signs of sexual abuse. Many children will not tell you if they have been sexually abused even if you ask them, but you can try to talk to them, show them you can be trusted, and see if they will open up to you about anything negatively impacting their lives.

The signs that an adult is sexually abusing a child

Since sexual abuse among children happens so often, our Columbus personal injury attorneys believe it is important that you learn the signs that an adult is sexually abusing a child. Some of the more common ones include:

  • They do not listen to the child when the child says “no” or “stop”
  • They do not acknowledge or respect boundaries
  • They spend a lot of time with a specific child, especially alone
  • They try to keep adults away
  • Other parents have complained about the adult touching their child in an unwanted way
  • The adult prefers to be friends with children instead of adults their age
  • They give the child gifts for no reason
  • The adult is very interested in the child's sexual development
  • They continuously talk with the child about their issues or problems

Can I file a lawsuit against a child predator in Columbus, Ohio?

Victims of child sexual abuse can seek financial compensation for the psychological and physical damages they experienced. Under ORC 2305.111, childhood victims of sexual abuse have 12 years from the date of the assault to file a civil claim. Adult survivors have two years to file. The best thing you can do, no matter when the abuse occurred, is to contact an attorney as soon as you can. It may not be too late to seek damages because there are exceptions to every rule. In most circumstances, you or your child may be entitled to compensation for economic and non-economic damages such as:

  • Any medical bills and expenses, including therapy, counseling, and rehabilitation
  • Lost income (as you recovered or as you stayed home to care for your child) as well as a loss of future earning potential
  • Costs associated with home health care of education as a result of your child’s abuse (and any other out-of-pocket expenses)
  • Property loss, if applicable
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium with your spouse
  • Loss of enjoyment in life/ inability to engage in day-to-ay activities
  • Any physical impairment sustained as a result of the abuse

Soroka & Associates is committed to protecting our most vulnerable community members. If your child was sexually abused or assaulted, you can take action to seek justice. To learn more about our services or to schedule a free consultation with an Columbus civil sexual assault lawyer, please call us or fill out this contact form to schedule a free consultation today.