Signs of Abuse

Statistics from Child Help USA indicates that one in every four girls and one in every six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

The Coastal Children's Advocacy Center provides services to approximately 220 child victims and witnesses, and an equivalent number of non-offending family members, each year. Approximately 1/4 of the youngsters seen at the center are boys, and 3/4 girls. Nearly 2/3 of children served are under the age of 11.
 
 
 
 
 
None of the listed signs alone is reason to assume that a child has been sexually abused. However, all are indicators of significant stress in a child's life, and should not be ignored.
 
Any sudden change in habits, feelings, or behavior should lead you to ask your child (in the most non-threatening manner possible) about emotional problems or sources of stress. 
 
      Children who have been abused MAY exhibit some of the
      following as a result of the stress of the abuse:
  • Nightmares, bad dreams, problems sleeping
  • Sadness, depression, withdrawal or isolation
  • Sexual play or acting out, excessive masturbation
  • Fearfulness, anxiety, clinginess
  • Frequent nausea/upset stomach, headaches, or other somatic complaints
  • Anger, aggressiveness, moodiness, irritability
  • Cruelty toward animals or smaller children
  • Fire-setting
  • Indiscriminate attention or affection-seeking behavior
  • Regressive behaviors, such as thumb sucking, bed-wetting, baby talk, etc.
  • Change in school performance or attendance
  • Wearing layers of clothing despite warm weather 
  •  Refusal to dress out for gym
  • Significant change in weight or appetite; eating disorder
  • Excessive daydreaming or inability to concentrate
  • Running away from home
  • Unwillingness to attend to personal hygiene or grooming
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Self-mutilation
  • Suicide attempts