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Rape and sexual assault statistics are difficult to determine because only approximately 16% of sexual assaults are reported.

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SAFE. CONFIDENTIAL.

"Children who grow up in a family where there is domestic violence are eight times more likely to be sexually molested within that family."

Kids


Did you know that children from violent homes often display a variety of behavioral characteristics as a result of living in an unpredictable environment? Many of these characteristics are similar to those exhibited by children who have been abused in other ways.

Recent studies show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18 years.

Characteristics of Children Suffering from Sexual Abuse

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Eating disturbances
  • Excessive fear or phobias of certain objects, people, places, or activities
  • Withdrawal, fantasy, or unusual acting out
  • Sexually provocative behavior, i.e., sexually acting out, showing unusual interest in sexual matters
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Fear of restrooms, showers, or baths (common locations of abuse)
  • Abrupt personality changes, extreme mood swings, fearfulness, or excessive crying
  • Anxieties, especially at naptime
  • Uncharacteristic aggression or rebelliousness

Physical Indicators:

  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Pain or itching in the genital area
  • Torn, stained, or bloody under-clothing
  • Frequent urinary infection
  • Genital discharge
  • Psychosomatic symptoms (frequent headaches or stomach aches)

Responding to Disclosure 

If your child tells you that someone has touched him or her in a way that is hurtful or in a way that made him or her feel uncomfortable:

  • Remain calm.
  • Reassure your child by saying,
    • I’m glad you told me. You did the right thing. You are very brave, and I’m so proud of your courage.
    • It’s not your fault. I’m very sorry this happened to you.
    • I’m always here for you. You are safe now.
  • Immediately seek help for your child and yourself. Possible resources include:
  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Child Protective Services
  • Supportive friends and relatives
  • Professional counselors