The Safety Net

Signs & Symptoms of Sexual Abuse


  • Sleep disturbances; fear of sleeping alone; bed wetting
  • Depression; suicidal feelings
  • Self-mutilating behavior or social withdrawal
  • Unusual preoccupation with genitals or sex topics
  • Inappropriate aggressive or sexual "acting out"
  • Seductive behavior or use of sexually inappropriate language
  • Attention seeking or "clingy" behaviors
  • Not wanting to go home; running away
  • Reluctance to be with a particular person
  • Fear of being touched or examined
  • Regression in behavior
  • Sudden development of phobias such as fear of dark or riding in cars
  • Physical complaints
  • New or increased substance abuse or other compulsive behaviors
  • Evidence of bribes, treats, gifts


Physical indicators of abuse include:

  • Torn or stained clothing
  • Painful mouth, abdomen, rectum or genitals
  • Change in appetite and weight loss or gain
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy
If you suspect sexual abuse, first, assure that the individual is safe. Assist the individual to report and accompany him or her to the hospital emergency room.  Advise the individual not to bathe or shower until after the exam. Call Adult or Child Protective Services and/or law enforcement. Assist the individual to seek supportive counseling. Do not allow the person to return to a potentially unsafe situation.


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