Child sexual abuse is a sexual activity between an adult and a minor. There are different forms of child sexual abuse like fondling, exposing themselves to the minor, showing pornographic images, etc. It does not necessarily include physical contact. A child cannot have any type of sexual activity with no one, not even relatives. Families who have been affected by child sexual abuse have been struggling with the outcome it has brought into their lives. Many children end up traumatized and that makes it difficult for them to express their feelings, which then leads to families pretending as if the sexual abuse did not occur. The intent of this paper is to inform the effects after a child experiences sexual abuse. In addition, the paper will present information on physical and behavior signs. The main points that will be discussed are the effects, warning signs and prevention of abuse.
First of all, every child will suffer with either short term or long term effects. Children who have been sexually abused may have behavioral reactions which include: depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, low self esteem, aggression, being scared to be alone, etc. Every child or preteen suffers different consequences after being sexually abused. “Older children are sexually abused more frequently than younger children. Older children are more independent and exposed to more people who may abuse them” (Atzemis 4). Since children are usually with their parents it is harder for them to be sexually abused. The only possible way for a child to be sexually abused is if the offender is a relative. On the other hand, preteens are exposed to other offenders since they are more independent and are alone in most places. A child’s behavior is more likely to change after being sexually abused while a preteen is more likely to engage in self-harming behaviors or may even begin consuming alcohol and abusing drugs. “Unfortunately, children who have already suffered one type of abuse are more at risk for suffering a future abuse than nonabused children” (Atzemis 4). There is a high possibility that children who have had any type of abuse will be eventually abused again. Victims need to learn that no matter how difficult it may be they need to put their experience behind them because then they will live their life in fear. Victims who believe that the abuse was their fault are more likely to be seriously affected because they will more than likely not trust anyone anymore. Victims believe that if you do not deal with it, it may come back to haunt you in the future. Many also attempt on committing suicide because of the number of traumas they experienced or because their emotions are taking over. Families of the victims are likely to suffer as well because the behavior of the victims may change and they will have to be on the lookout so they will not hurt themselves.
Moreover, there are not only behavioral signs to look out for but also physical signs. If a child was sexually abused signs can be seen as well. Some of the physical warning signs are: bleeding, bruising, swelling, itching or burning in the genital area, having a difficult time walking or sitting and pain during urination. Adults usually just look out for behavioral signs but forget about the physical signs. Physical signs are very easy to see in a child’s genital parts or around their body. The skin is so sensitive that it is easier to notice signs of bruises or burns. Children usually develop bruises quicker because their skin is far more delicate than adult skin. Children get bruises because they are either very active or they are being sexually abused. Everyone can notice the bruises on a child, but no one other than physicians can really tell if they were accidental or intentional. Infants, on the other hand, are less likely to get bruises due to the fact that they are not yet mobile. There are bruise patterns to look for to find out if sexual abuse has occured. Finger print brusing in the trunk or upper arm is a sign of child sexual abuse because those bruises only appear when you are only slapped or grabbed with pressure. Bite marks are also a sign of physical abuse. “The normal distance between the maxillary canine teeth in adults is 2.5– 4.0 cm. Therefore, bites with an intercanine distance >3.0 cm were more likely to be indicted by an adult. If the distance is Futhermore, children and preteens who have suffered sexual abuse need to recieve effective counseling and parents need to be more aware on what their child does. Parents need to have an open relationship with their children so they can know how to be safe and prevent child sexual abuse. Those children who are being sexually abused do not speak up because they feel embarrassed, fear or self blame. Victims will also be silent because the offender suggested that no one will believe them about the abuse or because they were told it was a game. If the offender is a close relative then the victim may feel the need to stay quiet in order for problems not to develop. If the victim trusts someone then they will eventually speak up, but if they do not then they will remain silent until someone finds out. It is extremely important for a parent to have trust and open conversations with their children to see if they have any problems going on. If a child is giving signs of sexual abuse pay close attention to what they are about to say and let them know that they did a good job in letting you know. Be supportive and make sure that the child is safe. Making a report to law enforcement is necessary so they can ask questions to the child on who the offender may be.
Female children are usually the ones who get abused by relatives or close friends since those are the individuals who are closer to them. More than half of the victims who are abused are abused by either a parent or another close relative. Victims who are abused by a relative act as if nothing is happening because they know that the child will not speak up. Some children will not speak up because they do not know they are being abused. It does not come to their mind that someone that loves them is taking advantage. Relatives are supposed to protect the children, not abuse them. When a child is abused by a relative, they figure out that no adult is trustworthy. It is disgusting knowing that someone you love and care for is sexually abusing your child or another child in the family. There are parents who believe the child, but once a preteen says that he/she was being sexually abused everything changes. Parents believe that teens only want attention or want to get rid of the person they are accusing. Never doubt a child no matter the age because what if the child is not lying. A child always comes before an accuser no matter who it is.
Lastly, nowadays everyone posts everything on social media from what they are doing to what they are eating, including children. Parents need to be aware of what children post on social media because that may be the start of sexual abuse or they may also post hints that they are being abused. “The problem with blogging is that children reveal more online than parents know, and they do it because they think that blogs are only read by their friends” (Smith 1). For example, there is an application which can be downloaded on a cell phone called “TikTok” and basically people record themselves dancing to different songs or doing funny things for views and likes. I have seen many female children doing dances in shorts or sports bras and for many people that is not something inappropriate, but then again we live in a world where there are men or even women who like seeing children and can sometimes be taken to the extreme. That is one of the reasons parents should be aware of what their child posts on social media applications.
In conclusion, sexual abuse has become very common especially in families who have children. Talking with your child can lower the chances of them being abused. Children who were abused on multiple occasions will probably suffer with long term consequences. If a child was abused then it is better for parents to have a conversation with their child to make them feel secure. Parents also have to be careful who their child is close to no matter who the person is because now even close relatives are the offenders.