Social worker Victoria Adepoju outlines the telling signs of abuse and explains why she has written a book to help those who are suffering
Our role as parents seems to be unending, we’re forever wearing different hats. One of our main roles is to be a protector for our children. We have more insight and experience of the world and therefore we’re able to care for their physical wellbeing and safeguard them from harm.
Sadly, we live in a fallen world where some children are subject to abuse on a daily basis. Predators take advantage of their vulnerability and innocence. Sexual Abuse is very common amongst children, with one in ten children experiencing this type of abuse before their 18th birthday (d2l.org).
As parents, we need to be aware of the signs our children may display if they were ever to be a victim of sexual abuse. As an experienced Social Worker, I have worked with many vulnerable children over the years and have noticed common signs that usually raise alarm bells. I hope that in sharing my observations, you will be better informed on what to look out for. Below are some of the common signs a child may display if they have experienced sexual abuse:
- Sexually inappropriate behaviour – children who have been abused may behave in sexually inappropriate ways or use sexually explicit language. They may also role play sexual acts with their toys.
- Changes in your child’s behaviour. Your child may become aggressive, withdrawn, clingier than usual, have difficulties sleeping, have regular nightmares or start bed wetting.
- Your child may want to avoid their abuser . Did you know that 60% of child sexual abuse happens by people the family trust? (d2l.org). Your child may dislike or seem afraid of a particular person and try to avoid spending time alone with them.
- If your child complains of physical problems in their private areas, this may be a sign of abuse. This can include soreness in their genital and anal areas or sexually transmitted infections. Girls may also become pregnant.
- Your child may have difficulty concentrating and learning, resulting in their grades deteriorating.
- They may drop hints and clues that the abuse is happening without revealing it outright.
Child sexual abuse can be horrific and have long lasting affects. The good news is up to 91% abuse can be prevented by education (consentparenting.com). That’s great news. Statistics are changeable. The more informed we are about how to keep our children safe, the better equipped we will be if certain scenarios and situations arise .
Often children will not talk about sexual abuse because they think it is their fault or they have been convinced by their abuser that it is normal or a “special secret”.
Be patient and ensure your child feels comfortable enough to share with you whatever is on their mind.
This is the main reason I have created a platform for children where we aim to teach them they should not keep secrets . ‘No More Secrets for Kids’ aims to help children identify and challenge different types of abuse they may be exposed to, you can check it out at www.nomoresecretsforkids.com
Our debut book, ‘No More secrets Simi’ helps children identify sexual abuse in a child friendly manner. Using the story of a little girl who is abused by her uncle, the book gives children the confidence they need to expose secrets and learn to build positive foundations for healthy and safe relationships.You can buy ‘No More Secrets Simi’ on Amazon or at any good book shop.