5 signs your child is being sexually abused
When you’re 4-years old and your father tells you he will kill you, you believe him.
When a parent who is supposed to be the protector turns into a perpetrator, children feel they have no one else to turn to, and take the abuse and terror without telling anyone, including close family members.
That is what happened to seven children in a sleepy village in Kiambu in August last year.
The father had been defiling his sons and daughters, all seven of them, when the mother was away at work.
He threatened that should they breathe a word to anyone, including their teachers, he would kill them, their siblings and their mother.
They believed him and kept mum. For three years, their father violated them, stole their innocence and terrified them, right under their mother’s nose, and she had no idea!
When the mother found out, she was beside herself with grief. Her children’s lives were ruined, she said.
She recounted that her husband never allowed her to bathe the children; he always did it himself.
Experts will tell you that abuse is all about control. The abuser will target the victim that is easiest to control. It also takes time; an abuser will first groom the victim before the real act of abuse begins.
A recent case in the UK has brought to the fore a series of child abuse incidents that took place over a period of 10 years in Rotherham between 1987 and 2003.
In the case, a woman groomed underage girls who at the time lived in an orphanage by acting like a mother to them. After she had gained their trust, she handed them to men who molested them and sometimes used them as sex slaves.
The question remains: how can a parent tell that their child is being molested at home or outside? Below are five telltale signs that a child is being abused.
- S/he has difficulty in walking and sitting
Watch out for any changes in walking style or any difficulty sitting. This means the child’s privates have been hurt and he/she may have been defiled.
- The child runs away from home
If a child does not like going home, a teacher should find out why.
For instance, towards the end of the day the child may get anxious or afraid, sometimes to the point of refusing to go home.
In such a case, it would be prudent for authorities to investigate or take the child to a medical facility to be tested.
- The child avoids a specific person for no clear reason
Sudden changes in behavior when it comes to interactions are telling.
If a child avoids a certain uncle or visitor, be on the look out.
Speaking to the child and asking questions could also help unearth the truth behind the change.
- The child contracts an STD or gets pregnant
This is an obvious sign. Questioning the child on who is responsible and explaining to them what is happening is very important. Reporting the matter to police and taking the child to hospital should be the next course of action.
- The child shows signs of knowledge of sex and sexual content which is inappropriate to his/her age
Sexual education is the responsibility of parents, that way a child will have basic knowledge of sex that is appropriate in his/her age. When you notice a child has almost adult understanding of sex that was not taught to him/her by the parent or teachers in school, it’s a sure sign that the child is being abused or exposed to abuse.
Most importantly, parents should create a relationship of trust and openness with their children to make sure they feel comfortable telling them anything, including talking about instances of abuse.
For young children, it is important for parents to take time every once in a while to give them a bath so that they can get an opportunity to notice if anything is unusual.
As a parent you are the first line of protection when it comes to your children, don’t fail them.
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