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Indicators of Sexual Abuse

There may be physical indicators that a child is being sexually abused. Some examples of this are:

  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Bruises, lacerations, redness, swelling or bleeding in genital, vaginal or anal area
  • Blood in urine or faeces
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Unusual or excessive itching or pain in the genital or anal area

There may also be indicators in a child’s behaviour that could indicate sexual abuse.

Some examples of this in young children are:

  • Age-inappropriate sexual play with toys, self, others
  • Bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge
  • Comments such as “I’ve got a secret”, or “I don’t like Uncle”
  • Fire lighting by boys
  • Fear of certain places eg bedroom or bathroom

Some examples of this in older children are:

  • Eating disorders
  • Promiscuity or prostitution
  • Uses younger children in sexual acts
  • Tries to make self as unattractive as possible

There may be indicators in adult behaviour that could indicate sexual abuse. Some examples of this are:

  • May be unusually over-protective of a child
  • Is jealous of a child’s relationships with peers or other adults or is controlling of the child
  • May favour the victim over other children
  • Demonstrates physical contact or affection to a child which appears sexual in nature or has sexual overtones

More details and examples of indicators of sexual abuse are available in the book 'How Can I Tell?'.  You can view 'How Can I Tell?' online or you can order copies of 'How Can I Tell?' through our shop.