Signs & Symptoms
of the Sexually Abused Child
Please Note..
The below list of possible Signs & Symptoms of the Sexually Abused Child may be indicators of other kinds of abuse or distress that the child may be experiencing &
does not necessarily point towards Sexual Abuse.  It is also a possibility that some of the below signs/symptoms may indicate some type of medical issue.

This list in not all-inclusive.  Word of Advice...Do Not Panic.  Just be aware of the possibility.  Get educated on this crime & be alert...for Children's Sake.  

It is OUR responsibility as ADULTS to look for & notice Signs & Symptoms of the Sexually Abused Child.
Possible Signs & Symptoms...

Disclosure by Child...
Not Guaranteed.  Possible, but unlikely.  Sexual Abusers of children know how to silence children (continue to scroll down for more information).

Physical Evidence...
Unlikely for a couple of reasons...
1)  Unless a child is brutally raped, there may not be enough evidence.  Any evidence that is there may be dismissed as potentially being caused by something else...
undetermined cause.
2)  Children are so resilient and their bodies heal so quickly that what evidence may be there will not be there for long, in most cases.


  • Gradual and/or sudden changes in behavior (Isolation, Becoming Introverted, Withdrawal, Fearfulness, Agitation, Excessive Crying, Depression)

  • Aggressive / Disruptive Behavior

  • Excessively Active

  • Cruelty to Others / Cruelty to Pets

  • Change or loss of appetite

  • Recurring nightmares; Disturbed sleep patterns, Fear of the dark

  • Sudden Change displaying Immature Behavior for their age

  • Regression to more of an Infantile Behavior (Bed Wetting, Thumb Sucking, Excessive Crying)

  • Torn or stained underclothing

  • Vaginal or rectal bleeding, pain, itching, swollen genitals, vaginal discharge or an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease)

  • Unusual interest in and/or knowledge of sexual matters

  • Expressing affection in ways that are inappropriate for a child of that age

  • Inappropriately exposing their Body / Genitals at home and/or in public

  • Sexual Acting Out / Inappropriate Sexual Play (with Self, Other Children, Adults, Pets, Toys)

  • Excessive Masturbation

  • Fear of a certain person or an intense dislike of being left somewhere or with someone

  • Trying to avoid a familiar adult

  • Fear of people of the same sex and/or age of the one who is abusing or has abused them

  • Afraid of places similar to where the abuse occurs or occurred

  • Overly Compliant Behavior

  • False Maturity / Mature Appearance and/or Behavior, inappropriate for their age (Acting or Dressing Older) / Heightened Sense of Responsibility / Devotion
    to Duty

  • Unusual / Strange / Inappropriate interaction between a child & a specific person

  • Unhealthy / Odd attachment to a specific person

  • Change in behavior only around a specific person

  • Difficulty walking or sitting

  • Wearing many layers of clothing

  • Afraid to be left alone

  • Excessive daydreaming

  • Unable to go to the bathroom or refuses to go; more than likely only around a certain person

  • Pretending to be sick or actually becoming ill / Recurring Health/Medical Issues

  • Loss of or lack of interest in friends, school, sports, other activities, etc...

  • Difficulty learning in school / Inability to Concentrate / Short Attention Span / May appear to have a learning disorder / Appears to be hyperactive (may even
    be diagnosed as ADD / ADHD)

  • Hesitant to Change Clothes for Gym Class

  • Fear of participating in Physical Activities at School


  • Extreme and/or unexplained Anger

  • Running Away

  • Delinquent Behavior

  • Low Self Worth

  • Self Destructive Behavior / Self-Harm / Self-Mutilation (Cutting, Burning)

  • Seductive Behavior / Promiscuous Behavior

  • Low Self-Esteem vs. Something to Prove

  • Eating Disorders

  • Addictions (Drugs, Alcohol, Sex, Pornography)

  • Anxiety

  • Mood Swings

  • Happened or Happening to a "Friend"

  • Sudden change in school performance & behavior

  • Arriving at School Early / Staying Late

  • Unexplained and/or Excessive Fear

  • Lack of Trust in Self & Others

  • Difficulty forming relationships / Poor Peer Relationships / Avoidance of Relationships

  • Signs of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

  • Suicide Thoughts / Attempts and/or Suicide
Observing A Child At Play...
Watch & Listen!  You may be surprised at what you can learn
by observing a child during playtime.  This is applicable
primarily with younger children that still play with toys.  It's why
so many therapist use
Play Therapy when dealing with
younger children.  

* Vivid Imagination versus Truth *

Another Thought... Knowledge on sexual acts / behaviors that
is advanced for the child's age may show up in a Child's
Why Most Children Will More Than Likely Not Tell...
  • Fear (Being Threatened & Manipulated)

  • Love and/or Know the Person Abusing Them (Don't want their "loved one" to get into trouble; Want their Acceptance/Approval)

  • Shame

  • Embarrassment

  • Guilt

  • Lack of Understanding

  • Confusion

  • Blame Themselves

  • Have been taught to respect Adults (Authority Figures)

  • Thinks/Feels like everyone knows (That people can tell just from looking at them)

  • Don’t want to Upset a Loved One

  • To protect a loved one or pet from Abuse or Harm (i.e. Mom, Brother, Sister, Dog, etc...)

  • Don’t Think Anyone will Believe Them (That's what they are being told)

  • Fear of what a Loved One might do to the Abuser

  • Feel it is a Private Matter that should not be talked about

  • Think maybe its Normal; Happens to all Children

  • Knows its Abnormal; Feel Very Alone; Thinks a Highly Unusual Thing

  • They told someone once & was either not believed and/or not protected


For many children who do tell, they are either not believed and/or not   
protected.  Unfortunately, this in turn has the potential to shut down a
child about their abuse for a long time, if not permanently.  Why would
that child ever tell again?  Something to think about Adults!
How Do Sexual Abusers Silence Children...
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By knowing all the reasons Why Most Children Will More Than Likely Not Tell Anyone.  Sexual Predators
(Child Molesters & Pedophiles alike) are likely to use some or all of the following methods...

  • Dominance
  • Intimidation
  • Manipulation
  • Threats
  • Instilling Fear

  • Gaining Child's Trust and/or Love
  • Playing on Emotional Needs of Child
  • Displaying Affection & Care
  • Offering Gifts
  • Playing Games & Being Fun

  • Brainwashing (aka Mind Control)
  • Etc...
The lack of
decision-making skills,
knowledge and abilities of
a Child (meaning Birth to
17 Years of Age) is what
Sexual Predators take
advantage of.
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Inappropriate Touching"

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