Signs and Myths About Sexual Abuse

Behavioral and Physical Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse

| Anxiety | This could include sleep disturbances, unusual fears, unexplained    periods of panic.

| Abnormal Sexual Behaviors | This could include excessive masturbation,      pain when using the restroom, resistance to remove clothing at appropriate time (ie: bath time), or unusual sexual knowledge.

| Change in Personality or Mood | This could include aggressive behavior, reluctance to be alone with certain person, withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities.


Myths About Child Sexual Abuse

“He looks and acts normal, he can’t be a child molester!”  Sex offenders usa a number of strategies that allow them to gain access to children while hiding their true actions.  Sex offenders look and act normal.

“Only men sexually abuse children and the victim is always a girl.”  While male perpetrators tend to be the majority, women are also capable of child sexual assault.  Again, as girls tend to be the majority, boys can also be victims. 

“Abused children always tell.”   Often, children do not disclose their abuse.  Several things can play a role in this: the age of the child, whether or not the child was threatened, social stigma, or the child may blame themselves or feel they will get in trouble.  Children may be scared that a disclosure would “ruin” their family.

“Victims will have physical signs of abuse.”  The truth is that the physical signs of abuse are rare.   Many acts leave no physical trace, and injuries from sexual abuse tend to heal very quickly.

“Stranger danger!”  It’s not the stranger in the park, it’s the people you have in your home.  In fact, 90% of all reported cases of child molestation involve a child and a known perpetrator.  Abusers can be anyone. 

“A sexually abused child will result in the child growing up to become a sex offender.”  Early childhood sexual victimization does NOT automatically lead to sexually aggressive behaviors.

“Child sexual abuse is a cultural or socioeconomic problem.”  Sexual abuse crosses ALL socioeconomic, neighborhood, race, and class barriers.