Have you ever experienced abuse

Abuse - Symptoms can be signals

When girls and boys experience sexual abuse, it can have different repercussions. They depend, for example, on the intensity and duration of the abuse, the degree of dependency on the abuser or on the social relationships of the girls and boys. The gender of the child or young person concerned can also play a role in how the crime is dealt with.

Injuries in the genital or anal area that are a direct indication of sexual abuse are rarely seen. There are also no clear psychological signs. However, the children and adolescents can develop symptoms that must be taken seriously as signals.

For example, there can be changes in behavior - such as anxiety, aggressiveness, decline in performance, tendencies to withdraw, poor concentration or sexualised behavior. Psychosomatic complaints such as headache or abdominal pain, sleep disorders or skin diseases can also be signs. Some girls and boys injure themselves, lose weight or gain weight, others consume excessive alcohol or pills, stay away from school, or run away from home.

However, none of these symptoms are specific to sexual abuse! This means that each of these abnormalities can also have other causes. In any case, parents, educational professionals, but also other adults should pay attention. Such changes mean that the child or adolescent has problems or experiences stressful things and needs the support of carers who are close to them.

Some symptoms do not appear immediately after the attack, but rather much later, for example with the onset of puberty or as adults with the birth of the first child.

Feelings of guilt and shame - the fear of the victims

Girls and boys almost always feel guilty about abuse. If they have sought to be close to the perpetrator themselves, if they have even endangered themselves, for example by revealing personal information in the chat or posting erotic pictures of themselves, feelings of guilt increase. They are also ashamed of what happened and so remain trapped in the emotional dependence on the abuser.

The girls and boys affected by abuse in the family usually want to keep the family together. Victims of sexual abuse in facilities fear the reactions of those responsible, other children and adolescents, do not want to cause their parents grief or are afraid that they will have to leave the facility. Therefore, girls and boys often do not dare to tell someone about these experiences and to seek help.

The abusers often oblige them to maintain secrecy and threaten them with dire consequences if they do not adhere to them. In addition, many affected people fear that they may not be believed. But statements by children or adolescents that indicate sexual abuse should always be taken seriously.

The earlier signals are recognized, the faster a child or young person succeeds in confiding in themselves, and the better they are absorbed with this experience by their family and social environment, the lower the risk of serious consequences. Girls and boys who are believed and who are not accused or blamed are more likely to come to terms with the crime.