Physical Warning Signs & Symptoms of Sexual Abuse:
- Venereal disease
- Irritated or redness in the genitals
- Pain of the genitals
- Vaginal or penile discharge
- Unusual or offensive odors
- Urinary infection or difficulty with urination
Emotional/Behavioral Warning Signs & Symptoms of Sexual Abuse:
- Returning to earlier behaviors (bedwetting, thumb sucking, nightmares)
- Sleep disturbance (insomnia, fear of the dark or fear of sleeping alone)
- Mood changes (withdrawal, anger, depression, anxiety, irritability, distrust)
- Changes in school performance or attendance
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Inappropriate sexual behaviors or increased interest in genitalia
Age Appropriate Developmental & Sexual Behavior
Infants (birth – 11 months)
Only physical signs can be present. Pay attention to extreme discomfort of genital areas.
Preschool (1 – 5 years old)
Common: Sexual language relating to differences in body parts, bathroom talk, pregnancy and birth. Performing self stimulation acts at home and at times even in public. Showing and looking at private body parts.
Uncommon: Discussion of specific sexual acts or explicit sexual language, adult-like sexual contact with other children.
School-Age Children (6 – 12 years old)
Common: Questions about relationships and sexual behavior, menstruation and pregnancy. Experimentation with same-age children, often during games, kissing, touching, exhibitionism and role-playing. Private self stimulation.
Uncommon: Adult-like sexual interactions, such as oral sex or simulated intercourse. Discussing specific sexual acts or public self stimulation.
After Puberty Begins:
Common: Increased curiosity about sexual materials and information, questions about relationships and sexual behavior, using sexual words with peers. Increased experimenting including open-mouthed kissing, body-rubbing and fondling. Self stimulation in private.
Uncommon: Consistent adult-like sexual behavior, including oral/genital contact and intercourse. Self stimulation in public.
Adolescence (13 – 16 years old)
Common: Questions about decision making, social relationships and sexual customs. Self stimulation in private. Experimenting between adolescents of the same age, including open-mouthed kissing, fondling and body rubbing, oral/genital contact. Also, voyeuristic behaviors are common. Intercourse occurs in approximately 1/3 of this age group.
Uncommon: Self stimulation in public and sexual interest directed toward much younger children.
Responding to Sexual Abuse
1. Watch for signs – Look for physical, emotional or behavioral signs
2. Control your emotions – Stay calm. Fear & anger are normal reactions, but they can frighten the child. Be sure not to blame, punish or embarrass the child. Abuse is NEVER a child’s fault.
3. Be supportive – Reassure the child that s/he did the right thing by telling. Tell the child that they are not the blame for what has happened.
Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS)– if the offender lives in the same home as the child