Possible signs of sexual abuse

Children exposed to sexual abuse often change how they behave. They might display physical signs of abuse or they may act in ways that are not usual for them.

You should remember there might be other issues going on in a child's life that could explain their reactions. You should talk with your child often and not ignore changes that seem out of character.

If your child is being abused they might:

  • be red or sore around the mouth or genitals for no obvious reason
  • seem to know more about sex than is usual for someone their age
  • become clingy
  • wet the bed or soil themselves
  • have sleep problems
  • do drawings which show sexual body parts or being hurt by others
  • act out their abuse with their toys
  • get upset or scared when people talk about bodies or sex
  • become withdrawn and compliant
  • become angry and destructive
  • hurt themselves intentionally or take big risks
  • start having problems at school.

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Last updated: 27 June 2017