13 Warning Signs To Indicate An Abuser Might Be in Your Child’s Life


Today we want to answer a critical question. What are the signs that might indicate there is an abuser in your child’s life? What are the signs that I can see on my children that might make me suspect that they have been sexually abused? These signs don’t necessarily mean that the child was sexually abused beyond the shadow of a doubt. But please don’t say  ‘I read this on Laila’s blog; hence, I am sure my child was sexually abused.’ No! Sometimes there could be other reasons as simple as, ‘Mother had a new baby, and I feel jealous.’ Or it might be, ‘My parents are not taking care of my basic needs, so I am crying out for help and attention.’. Yet, what we will share today are red flags that should get our attention because they may suggest that our child was exposed to abuse or molestation.


  1. Exhibiting signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

The body remembers traumatic experiences. Trauma is a psychophysical experience. It takes a toll on the child’s mind as well as on his/her body. When children experience trauma, they also suffer loss.   These losses cause deep feelings of sadness within a child. It is crucial that children are given various opportunities to identify and verbalize their feelings for emotional and spiritual healing to occur.  PTSD: is persistent symptoms of increased arousal in the autonomic nerve system (ANS)


  1. Expressing suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents

 Should be taken very seriously.


  1. Self-harm

Cutting or using alcohol or drugs to dull the pain of abuse.


  1. Developing Phobias

Fear of certain people, certain places, certain smells.


  1. Having trouble in school, such as absences, or lowering grades

  1. Changes in hygiene such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively

The child might become scared of taking off his/her clothes. The child may dread changing their underwear. The child becomes concerned about its own body. Many times the child will take off their underwear and start smelling them several times because they are terrified of what took place. Or, they may shower excessively because the child feels dirty because of the abuse.


  1. Regressive behaviors such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting. 

  1. Running away from home or school

 This happens mainly in pre-teens and teens.


  1. Being overly protective and concerned for siblings. Taking a caregiving role.

The abused child is afraid the perpetrator might harm their siblings. Sometimes the perpetrator might use this as a means of manipulating the child into accepting the abuse.


  1. Nightmares

Replaying what happened, or fear of the perpetrator. Don’t make fun of nightmares. Take them seriously especially if they are repeated.


  1. Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviors

When your child becomes obsessed with sex, asking incessantly about it. Watch if the child plays sexual games with toys.  Perpetrators might make children watch porn as part of grooming the child for abuse.


  1. Using words or phrases that are not age appropriate, unexplained silence, or suddenly talking less

Some children will withdraw and stop communicating with their parents or caregivers for fear that they might find out what happened. The abuser blames the child, and the child believes it.  Other times we might find that the child is using language that is very sexual or age-inappropriate words. They might start using different names for private parts than what you use at home.

  1. Bruising or swelling near the genital area, blood on sheets or undergarments, or broken bones

Today I want to say to every mother, every father, every teacher, and every person reading this, ‘pay attention to the signs! Know the signs! Know how to intervene! Don’t attack your son or daughter. Don’t scream if you find out they have been abused!’ No! Carefully open up a line of communication because children, when appropriately approached most likely, won’t keep any scars from the abuse later on in life.


I encourage you to read my book, What Happens After #MeToo? which will be released on 1 August 2018.

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