In a developed nation such as the United States, it is hard to imagine that every day children under age 18 are sexually abused in various ways. Sexual abuse can be defined as any kind ofvviolence that is sexual in nature including rape, molestation, incest, child pornography, etc. The sad reality is that sexual abuse is most often perpetrated by someone they know and trust such as a relative or close family friend. Statistics show that 1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused by the time they turn 18. America’s boys do not fare much better with rates of sexual abuse being as high as 1 in 5 before the age of 18.
These statistics are absolutely mind boggling. There are grave consequences these dear children will carry with them even into adulthood. Many will struggle with chemical and/or sexual addictions, as well as depression and eating disorders. Sadly, these traumas will continue to impact the next generation in negative ways, perpetuating the cycle of abuse.
Many children are fearful of disclosing the abuse as they have either been threatened or think they love the person and do not want them to get into trouble. Even more horrifying, some children grow up in such abusive homes they do not recognize that what they are experiencing is even abuse. They may think what is happening is normal and how love is shown.
As hard as it may be to identify these victimized little ones, there are some red flags you can be trained to recognize. If you are a loved one suspect abuse in the life of a child you know, do not hesitate to report it to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.
Some red flags to be aware of include a child presenting with frequent Urinary Tract Infections or Yeast Infections, depression and withdrawal, anxiety at bedtime, frequent nightmares, regression back to earlier behaviors such as bedwetting, obsession with one’s body, sexual knowledge and acting out which is not age appropriate, torn or stained undergarments, and anger.
Obviously, some of these are parts of normal development such as nightmares and angry outbursts, but the key is to be aware of new, uncharacteristic behaviors of the child.
It is important to be aware that the law is there to protect these innocent ones. If a child speaks out, there are weighty legal repercussions for the perpetrator. If you or a loved one have been sexually abused, speak out! There is justice and help to lead to a brighter future!