Statistics show that one in every two children is sexually abused! Studies tell us that abusers are often persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility (family member, domestic help, close relative, neighbour, friend, school staff, etc.). The impact of child sexual abuse can last a lifetime if one does not find support or is healed. Most children quietly suffer and don’t talk about sexual abuse. But we need to TALK about it so that we can PREVENT it and HEAL its ill effects.
Certain signs to watch out for sexual abuse:
- A sudden change in the child’s behaviour – passive, aggressive or overly pleasing.
- Sudden fear, anxiety and resistance to certain places, people and situations.
- A sudden change in eating and sleeping pattern – too much or too less.
- Unexplained pain or swelling in the genital
- Sexualized behaviour, i.e. age-inappropriate sexual play, sexual talk and activity.
A parent or a caregiver who is aware can help a child who has been sexually abused.
Please note that these behavioural changes and physical concerns MAY be indicative of sexual abuse, but does NOT confirm sexual abuse. Also, no ‘one’ behaviour alone determines that a child has been sexually abused. But we need to be alert when we see these signs and talk to the child in a non-threatening manner to find out if there is abuse. It is also possible that the child shows certain symptoms not because he or she has experienced sexual abuse or any other kind of abuse, but maybe because of some other crisis – for example, death in the family.