Mirabel News Oct. 2013: Warning Signs of Possible Abuse


Any one of the sign doesn’t mean that a child has been sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you begin asking questions and consider seeking help.

Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent
*   Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
*  Seems distracted or distant at odd times
*  Has a sudden change in eating habits
*   Refuses to eat
*Loses or drastically increases appetite
*  Has trouble swallowing.
* Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
*Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
*Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
*Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
*Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
*Talks about a new older friend
*Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
*Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
*Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge


Signs more typical of younger children

•    An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
•    Has new words for private body parts
•    Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
•    Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
•    Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
•    Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Signs more typical in adolescents

•    Self-injury (cutting, burning)
•    Inadequate personal hygiene
•    Drug and alcohol abuse
•    Sexual promiscuity
•    Running away from home
•    Depression, anxiety
•    Suicide attempts
•    Fear of intimacy or closeness
•    Compulsive eating or dieting

Physical warning signs

Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare.  If you see these signs, bring your child to a doctor.   Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.
•    Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
•    Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
•    Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training