You can teach your kids to come talk to you about anything. You can keep them from playing at friends houses or going to the park alone. You can not allow them to have sleepovers...but the truth is we can't protect them from everything and even thought we think they will tell us, we don't know how they have been threatened. If you have never been in that place it's hard to understand. As parents it's important that we know the signs of sexual abuse and that we understand how to talked to our kids about it. It's too much to talk about in just one post so we will break it up into a few posts.
I've seen the signs before. It can break your heart to just have the thought...wondering if a precious little girls you are working with has been sexually abused. It happens more often than we would like to think. It's said that the cases of sexual abuse has been in decline, but it's hard to actually know, because some 88% of cases of sexual abuse are never reported.
We often teach our children about "stranger danger", but there are so few times that we actually teach them that someone who they trust and know well can hurt them. In as many as 93% of child sexual abuse cases, the child knows the person that commits the abuse. This means that as parents we need to be open with our children about keeping their bodies safe. We also need to keep our eyes open to signs that our children have been sexually abused.
It's easier to not think about it. When you see those signs it's so much easier to live in denial. No one wants to believe that something like this would happen to their child. For the moment it is easier to live in darkness and believe that ignorance is bliss, but that darkness can turn into harder issues when that child grows older.
When children have been sexually abused it can cause them to have different physiological and physical signs. Every child is different and just because your child has one of these signs doesn't mean that they have been sexually abused. It may be there for another reason. After you have assessed these signs it's more important about how you approach the child about the topic. Communication being something I am passionate about we will be sure to go over good ways later on this week. Here are some things that might occur when a child has been sexually abused:
*A separation from reality by mentally removing themselves from the situation- many people who have been abused are able to disassociate themselves to such an extent that, for years, they may not even remember they were abused.
*Children might display sexual knowledge that is beyond what is normal for their age.
*Unexplained pain, irritation, and swelling around the genital areas.
*Depression, sleep disturbances, nightmares, frequent urinary infections, isolation from family and friends, or withdrawal from usual activities.
*Tendency to become either obsessive or apathetic about hygiene.
*Anxiety, passivity or overly "pleasing" behavior, low self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, and promiscuous activity.
*Many people who have been sexually abused all into obsessive compulsive behavior patterns such as excessive bathing, teeth-brushing, or hand-washing due to feeling perpetually dirty.
*Many victims of sexual abuse will turn to food as a source of comfort which often develops into and eating disorder: anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating