Recognizing Sexual Abuse in Children

How to Tell if Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused

Children who may be too frightened to talk about sexual abuse may exhibit physical or behavioral signals:

  • Reports sexual activity
  • Exhibits sexual behaviors or knowledge inappropriate for the child's age, such as simulated sexual activity with dolls or younger children
  • Recurrent nightmares or disturbed sleep patterns and fear of the dark
  • Fear of strange men / women and/or strange situations
  • Bed wetting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Behavioral changes such as withdrawal, aggression, failing in school, running away, or destructive activities
  • Torn, stained, or bloody clothing
  • Vaginal or rectal bleeding, pain, itching, swollen genitals, or vaginal discharge
  • Unprovoked crying spells
  • Fear of playing alone
  • Taking an excessive number of baths