WARNING: content not appropriate for children under the age of 15 yrs, but hey- a contextually and age appropriate conversation with your children raising some awareness around this topic is always a good thing.
Your Questions Answered Series… Blog 3 – You asked and these are my answers. What am I doing? You can read about it here.
I have shared with you the definition and the scope of sexual violence (here is the LINK). I have also shared in my last blog the behavioural indicators of sexual abuse (LINK) and now this is a look at 12x physical signs of sexual abuse. Remember with anything- all of us have a duty to assess what we see and consider whether a child or anybody for that matter needs assistance. We should consider if what is occurring, what is seen and what is heard needs to be reported. If your not sure about something- ask more questions, it’s best if they are open ended and this allows for more communication to occur and there is less pressure on the victim).
Be brave; don’t be afraid to ask questions! Be afraid not to, because living with the guilt is much harder than saying I tried… Your questions may save a life, but be gentle… and be gently persistent, especially if you really do believe that something is happening.
I can tell you right now that this is a really tough series of blogs to put together, and if you are reading along, I want to acknowledge you for your willingness to be educated and informed. This blog is probably a little harder hitting than the other blogs, because this is the stuff that is hard to hear, hard to talk about and even harder to imagine. (Even hard to write!)
The thing is, this is the reality of it. This is what happens and as a parent, teacher, support worker, legal or medical professional or child-care worker or anyone who is around children and young people, this is what the physical signs of sexual abuse and violence include.
As I said in the Screaming Silence of Sexual abuse, these are not usually seen as a singular entity. If child abuse of any kind (physical, emotional or psychological) is occurring, it is usually displayed via a number of signs, symptoms and behavioural traits that indicate that something is ‘not right.’ That something may be explained by a few simple questions. i.e How are you doing? Are you feeling ok? I see that your not playing sport today, can you tell me whats happened? Remind the child that you are a safe person and encourage conversation.
Physical Signs of Sexual Abuse:
- Burning sensations during urination and any bowel movements. (Caused by irritation, infection and or pain as a result of foreign bodies, or sexual penetration.)
- Self-harm or cutting: (Coping response, but also as a result of a numbing, the victim- in order to feel something tends to cut. This is believed to release some emotion for the victim as well) It can also indicate other types of trauma.
- Sleep disturbances and nightmares (In a state of anxiety, the victim will be experiencing hyper-vigilance. In my case, I waited up at night to see if he would come… I was looking over my shoulder and I was afraid of what would happen- very difficult to have a peaceful nights sleep)
- Inserting objects and items into vagina or a boy ‘humping’ or mounting stuffed animals: and/or finding foreign items in genital or rectal areas. (Typically children display what they are taught. A child who knows no better – is simply mimicking what they have been shown. It is also to provide the same biological response, which sadly has been enforced on the child.)
- Trauma to breasts, bottom, lower abdomen or thighs. (Especially if there is more than just ‘touching’ occurring- there will generally be evidence of trauma to the genital area (Can include bleeding in these areas) (can cause general discomfort and child not wishing to participate in physical activity at school)
- Pregnancy: (Let’s hope not, but this can and DOES happen)
- Sexually transmitted diseases. (If a child they may begin to show signs of STI’s, possibly around their mouth, or genital areas especially if there was never any signs previously)
- Unexplained wetting of pants and even soiling pants. (This is for several reasons… Possibly fear, potential infections in the area, at times to appear less attractive, and due to enlargement in the area as a result of trauma)
- Abnormal enlargement of vaginal or rectal areas. (Forced trauma to these areas would result in stretching of the area)
- The presence of semen/sperm. (for obvious reasons)
- Ongoing infections in genital area– (especially young girls and having frequent Urinary Tract Infections.)
- Stained or bloodied underwear.
Of all of the signs of sexual abuse and child trauma, while these are the most obvious, unless you are a parent or carer, or are in a position where you are seeing the child getting changed, or living in close proximity to the child, it is quite easy for these signs to go unnoticed. So other things to be aware of could be some of the following:
- Child does not want to participate in sports or physical activity.
- Child complains of pain in genital areas, or pain while going to the toilet.
- Attempts made to cover legs and thighs.
- Blood or semen in child’s underwear.
Please be a hero to a child suffering from any kind of abuse and report the matter. There is a genuine fear surrounding what we think we see, reporting the matter and subsequently having to go through the process. There are thought such as- What if I am wrong? What if I have to go to court? What if the parent comes after me? What if i do it wrong?
Just ask… and if your not sure ask… and if you don’t know how… ask…! Better to ask, then to find out that you were right… something was happening and you could have saved them.
And if your wrong…. then so what? Be brave and speak up!
You can do it!
Much Love ,
Next Blog: Psychological Signs of Sexual Abuse.
Every situation is different and each situation has its own very complex circumstances. There are no hard and fast answers, what I say here is my experience- and my own opinion supported at times by research.
This stuff is not black and white. It just can’t be. What is black and white/ right and wrong is that Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence is never ok, and it is never under any circumstances right.
What is grey is in fact terribly dark… That is the silence that sits surrounding this topic. The shame and absolute fear so heavily laden on the shoulders of victims that the mere thought of speaking brings crippling anxiety and fear.
Lets change that… together.
For further support you can click HERE:
If you are in immediate danger, please call 000 in Australia.
To report sexual abuse to police- please attend a Police Station or call 131444 for Policelink. (Australia)
To seek support or assistance you can contact me, www.kellyhumphries.com (I am a single entity who can offer advice, and personal coaching. I am not a psychologist or registered counsellor, but I am very approachable and happy to help.
For internet related advice please contact The Carly Ryan Foundation http://www.carlyryanfoundation.com
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