What are possible indicators of sexual abuse? 

The following is a list of indicators of POSSIBLE sexual abuse. Please remember that these physical and behavioral indicators may be due to another reason.

Physical Indicators:

  • Difficulty urinating or having bowel movements
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Tearing, stains or blood on a child’s underclothing
  • Genital or anal bruises, fissures and lacerations
  • Frequent vaginal infections
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or yeast infections
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pain or itching in the genital area
  • Physical complaints, such as headaches and stomachaches

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Verbal statements by the child
  • Acting out or passive withdrawal/depression
  • Persistent and inappropriate sexual play with toys, animals or peers
  • Detailed and unexplained sexual knowledge beyond age expectations
  • Seductive, precocious sexual behavior and gender confusion
  • Aggressive sexual behavior, especially in boy victims
  • Excessive, persistent public masturbation
  • Disturbances in eating patterns (i.e. binge eating, loss of appetite, gagging, hoarding food)
  • Disturbances in toileting patterns (i.e. wetting/soiling themselves)
  • Disturbances in sleep patterns (i.e. nightmares, night terrors, fear of the dark, fear of being alone in bedroom, wanting to sleep with a parent)
  • Extraordinary fear of the same sex adults, baby-sitters, etc.
  • Unexplained and unusually intensive guardedness, mistrust, clinging and watchfulness
  • Role reversal, overly concerned for siblings
  • Regression: Returning to earlier behaviors that have been outgrown
  • Outbursts and tantrums, irritability
  • “Fragile” feelings (i.e. hurt easily, quick to cry)
  • Nervous behavior, worry
  • Bedwetting or thumb sucking
  • Poor self-esteem, self-devaluation, lack of confidence
  • Suicide attempts (especially teens)
  • Sudden difficulties in school
  • Threatened by physical contact or closeness