The month of April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, providing an opportunity dedicated to educating people about sexual assault and its victims. The brave survivors that our sexual abuse attorneys are currently representing have inspired us to share important information regarding sexual abuse throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Continue reading to learn more about common signs of sexual assault.
SIGNS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN CHILDREN
Children who are experiencing sexual abuse typically don’t talk about it and some even keep it a secret for most of their lives. Therefore, it is very important for those who have children or are caregivers of children to be aware of the common physical, emotional, and behavioral signs that sexually abused children can exhibit.
Here are some common physical signs of sexual abuse in children:
- Trouble sleeping
- Visible discomfort sitting or walking
- Stained underwear with blood
- Physical pain, itching, or touching genital area
- Eating less than normal
Signs of sexual abuse do not always present as physical signs. Sometimes an indicator of sexual assault can be emotional or behavioral, such as:
- Depression & anxiety
- Extreme temper tantrums
- Fear of certain locations or people
- Drastic changes in grades
- Creating drawings with sexual content
- Fear of being touched or hugged
- Substance abuse
- Frequent crying
SIGNS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN ADULTS
Adults who are experiencing sexual abuse present many of the same physical, emotional, and behavioral signs as children like depression, anxiety, and extreme mood changes. Some may also show signs of:
- Bruising on thighs, buttocks, arms, and neck
- Unexplained sexually transmitted infections or diseases
- Unexplained pregnancy
- Poor concentration
Sometimes, repressed memories of sexual abuse as a child can reemerge later in life for adult survivors, affecting their physical health, relationships, and mental health. These signs can include:
- Eating disorders
- Body image issues
- Memory loss
- Lack of concentration
- Fear of intimacy or attachment
- Intense feelings of guilt and shame
- Difficulty creating boundaries with others
- Unexplained emotional outbursts
*It is important to note that some of these signs and symptoms may be due to other medical issues not related to childhood sexual assault. There may also be other signs and symptoms of sexual abuse not listed above.
Read our blog posts from earlier in the month to learn more about sexual assault.
I THINK A LOVED ONE IS BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED, WHAT DO I DO?
A lot of survivors feel deep guilt and shame. These feelings can hold them back from opening up about their abuse. If a loved one feels comfortable enough to confide in you about the sexual abuse they have endured, one of the most important things you can do for them is remind them the abuse was not their fault. Should a loved one confide in you shortly after the abuse has occurred, gently encourage them to seek medical attention. Every person who endures sexual assault heals differently. For some, healing starts with filing a report against the perpetrator, while others don’t want that to be a part of their healing process. Even if you feel as though they should press charges or file a civil lawsuit against their abuser, that may not be the best way for the survivor to heal. Ask the survivor if they are planning to take legal action and if they are, offer your support by going with them to speak with a lawyer. Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that can leave survivors feeling overwhelmed and scared. Luckily, there are many resources available for survivors of sexual assault such as support groups, therapy, and counseling that can help many survivors navigate the many feelings that arise following their abuse.
If your loved ones is ready enlist the assistance of an experienced attorney to file a civil lawsuit against their perpetrator, the Friedman Schuman team of sexual abuse attorneys are here to help. Our lawyers have helped countless survivors receive the justice they deserve. Get in touch with our sexual abuse attorneys today for a free consultation. We are here to fight for justice with you.