Child sexual abuse is a complicated form of abuse because of its layers of guilt and shame. It's important to recognize that sexual abuse does not always involve body contact. Exposing a child to sexual situations or material is sexually abusive, whether or not touching is involved.
Sexual abuse usually occurs at the hands of someone the child knows, most often close relatives. It’s not just girls who are at risk. Boys and girls both suffer from sexual abuse. In fact, sexual abuse of boys may be underreported due to shame and stigma.
Aside from the physical damage that sexual abuse can cause, the emotional component is powerful and far-reaching. Children who are sexually abused may feel that they are responsible for the abuse or somehow brought it upon themselves. This can lead to self-loathing and sexual problems as they grow older—often either excessive promiscuity or an inability to have intimate relations.
Warning signs of sexual abuse in children
Trouble walking or sitting.
Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14.