The following is a list of common signs of sexual abuse however it is important to be aware that every case is different and signs may not always be present:
• Redness, rashes or swelling in the genital area
• Urinary tract infections or other such symptoms
• Anxiety such as chronic stomach pain and/or headaches
• Withdrawal, depression, anger and rebellion
• Sexual behavior and language that is not age-appropriate
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• Help children understand they have the right to say no to touches that they don’t like, even if it seems harmless; it can teach them a lesson in confidence for later in life.
• Teach your child that whether they said “No” or not, they can ALWAYS talk to you about any touches that make them feel confused, hurt or scared.
• Empower children with basic safety messages to help prevent child sexual abuse. Use concrete and easy to understand Personal Body Safety Rules:
- My body belongs to me
- Touches in the private areas are ONLY to keep me clean and healthy
- Touches in the private areas are NEVER a secret
- If I feel confused, hurt or scared, I will talk to a grown up I trust
- It’s never too late to tell
- I will keep telling until I get the help that I need
• Many parents teach their children about “stranger danger,” and it is wise to give children basic safety rules about strangers. But the fact is that the vast majority of perpetrators of child sexual assault are known to the victim. Therefore it is critical to emphasize that safety rules about touching apply to everybody.
• Sexual abuse survives on secrecy. Help children negotiate the difference between fun and scary secrets. Examples of fun secrets are surprise parties and presents: they make you feel good and the best part is when you get to share them. Scary secrets are ones in which someone says you can never tell or when someone is made to feel confused, hurt or scared. Remind children that they can ALWAYS tell a scary secret!