Open Secret: The Warning Signs that Point to Child Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual AbuseThis episode features a conversation between RJ Padma Priya and child rights activist, Ashwini about child sexual abuse.

Ashwini enlists the following facts and warning signs of CSA. This is one the most sensitive topics that a person will ever deal with in their life. Children, usually, don’t open up or talk freely to their parents about the abuse they may have suffered. This can be prevented by observing some signs.

1. If the abuser, known or otherwise, gifts the child something, or provides them money as bribe to abuse them and buy their silence, the child may not reveal them directly to the parents; instead they may try to hide those gifts in a bag. They may then stop parents or any elders from checking that bag. This is a big warning sign indicating abuse.

2. Sudden starting or restarting of bed-wetting is another big sign of abuse in children. Bed-wetting usually stops around the age of 7.

3. Children hesitating to go alone to familiar places within their own house is another huge sign highlighting abuse. They may start expecting parental company even to go the washroom.

4. If a child who had always been OK about going to school suddenly starts displaying strong resistance to it, the parents must acknowledge it is a red flag indicating abuse.

5. An abused child often displays a strong fear of people with certain traits – for example, men with a long beard. These may be features that their abusers possess, making the children scared of anyone, even a relative, who may look similar. This is referred to as stereotyping.

6. Abused children may start displaying anger that they hadn’t before. This may come out against parents, siblings, other family members, and school friends. This is their ‘defense mechanism’. It is important to show them patience around this time and make efforts to talk to them, assuring them protection.

 7. This sign of abuse might not be common, but some kids may stop eating regular meals as they redirect their anger towards food. This is often noticed in adult survivors.

8. One of the most obvious signs of abuse is the showing up of marks on a child’s arms, legs and other body parts. Parents may mistake these marks to be insect bites.

9. Another bodily sign of abuse is of unexplained scratches on the body of a child. Instead of rejecting them as the result of child’s play, parents must investigate them by talking to their children.

10. Wanting to go to the same place again and again, even when there is no one close to the child present in the place, is another sign of abuse.

11. Parents must observe their children playing very closely. They must take note of how and with whom their children are playing, and especially how they play with dolls.

12. A child suffering abuse may also be unusually restless, refusing to sit still in one place at school and at home.

13. Another strong indicator of possible abuse is the child feeling extremely shy about removing their clothing in front of anyone, even known elders.

14. A drastic change in eating habits is a other indicator of abuse. This may also show up when the child is trying to eat a specific food item. For example, a child suffering oral sex abuse may refuse to eat bananas.

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