Sexual abuse may include inappropriate touching, being forced to have sex or engage in sexual acts, being forced to watch pornography, being prostituted, or having someone expose themselves to a child.

Sexual abuse of children includes:

  • Non-contact abuse
  • Making a child view a sex act
  • Making a child view or show sex organs
  • Inappropriate sexual talk
  • Contact abuse
  • Fondling and oral sex
  • Penetration
  • Making children perform a sex act
  • Exploitation
  • Child prostitution and child pornography
Sexual Abuse 1

Physical signs of sexual abuse:

Sexual Abuse 2
  • Difficulty sitting, walking, bowel problems
  • Torn, stained, bloody undergarments
  • Bleeding, bruises, pain, swelling, itching of genital area
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or yeast
  • Any sexually transmitted disease or
    related symptoms

Behavioral signs of sexual abuse:

  • Reports sexual abuse
  • Doesn’t want to change clothes (e.g., for P.E.)
  • Withdrawn, depressed, anxious
  • Eating disorders, preoccupation with body
  • Aggression, poor peer
    relationships, delinquency
  • Poor self-image, poor self-care, lack of
  • Sudden absenteeism, decline in school
  • Substance abuse, running away, recklessness, suicide attempts
  • Sleep disturbance, fear of bedtime,
    bed wetting (at advanced
    age), nightmares
  • Sexual acting out, excessive masturbation
  • Unusual or repetitive soothing behaviors
    (hand-washing, pacing, rocking, etc.)
  • Sexual behavior or knowledge that is
    advanced or unusual
Sexual Abuse 3

The laws that define child abuse in each state vary, so investigations look different in every state. If you are experiencing any type of abuse or have questions—please feel free to reach out to the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline by calling or texting 1-800-422-4453. Whatever you are feeling is valid and we want to help.