Childhood Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse of children occurs when they are forced or persuaded into sexual acts or situations by others. 

They might be encouraged to look at pornography, be harassed by sexual suggestions or comments, be touched sexually or forced to have sex. 

The long term effects can be devastating and the earlier such abuse begins, the harder it can be for the child to recover.

Signs that a child might be being sexually abused include:

  • Fear of someone in particular or of men in general
  • Lack of eye contact and engagement
  • Destroying treasured possessions
  • Feeling useless or stupid
  • Difficulty in walking or sitting, bruises, scratches, bite marks
  • Pregnancy - especially if reluctant to name the father
  • Running away from home
  • Very young children: an inability to draw themselves
  • Prematurely sexually active or knowledgeable
  • Changes in eating habits, eating disorders
  • Problems at school, reluctance to join in
  • Vaginal infections, genital damage, recurring urinary tract problems
  • Sleeplessness, nightmares, fear of the dark, bedwetting
  • Depression/ suicide attempts/ self mutilation/ alcohol or drug abuse
  • Older girls: wearing baggy clothes disguising body shape

If you suspect a child is being abused contact the NSPPC on 0800 800 5000

The impact of childhood sexual abuse

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you may find you may suffer from, depression, flashbacks, anxiety and or panic attacks. Perhaps you feel anger, guilt and shame about what happened and have a belief of worthlessness, low self esteem and lack of confidence. Maybe you have physical symptoms, which are linked to the abuse.

Prolonged childhood sexual abuse can also lead to Eating Disorders, Phobia’s, PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and personality disorders, including DID – Dissociative Identity Disorder.