Sexual Abuse

Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse

Children who have been sexually abused may show symptoms or changes in behavior. Some common symptoms are:

  • Regression, such as thumb sucking, clingy behavior, withdrawal, or loss of bowel/bladder control.
  • Sleeping disturbances, such as bed wetting or a fear of sleeping alone.
  • Eating disorders, such as bulimia, overeating, and anorexia.
  • School problems.

Social problems, such as anger, aggression, depression, suicidal gestures, preoccupation with masturbation, running away, substance abuse, prostitution, and gastrointestinal problems.

Some children may also have physical symptoms, including sexually transmitted diseases; bloodstains on underwear; unexplained genital injuries; pregnancy; bruises, bites or scratches, especially around the breasts, buttocks, genital or neck areas; and penile or vaginal discharge.

Family Focus is a series of positive discipline parenting tips and information sheets developed by specialists at Children's Hospitals and Clinics, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. For a complete list of topics, visit our Web page: http://www.childrensmn.org/.../parenting-resources/parenting-tips.