There are always signs of sexual abuse and assault, if you know where to look.
Warning signs that you are in an abusive relationship:
Does your partner:
- Embarrass you with put-downs?
- Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
- Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
- Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
- Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?
- Make all of the decisions?
- Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
- Prevent you from working or attending school?
- Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?
- Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
- Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?
- Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?
- Force you to try and drop charges?
- Threaten to commit suicide?
- Threaten to kill you?
Information provided by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, www.thehotline.org.
Warning signs of teen dating abuse:
Indicators that your friend may be in an abusive relationship:
- When your friend’s partner subjects him/her to name calling and puts him/her down in front of other people.
- Your friend’s partner acts extremely jealous when your friend talks to people of the opposite gender, even when it is completely innocent.
- Your friend apologizes for his/her partner’s behavior and makes excuses for him/her.
- Your friend frequently cancels plans last minute for reasons that sound untrue.
- Your friend’s partner is always checking up on him/her – calling and texting, and demanding to know where and with whom your friend has been.
- You’ve seen your friend’s partner lose his/her temper, maybe even break or hit things when angry.
- Your friend seems worried about upsetting or angering his/her partner.
- Your friend is giving up things that used to be important to him/her, like spending time with friends or other activities.
- Your friend’s weight, appearance or grades have changed dramatically. These could be signs of depression, which could indicate abuse.
- Your friend has injuries he/she can’t explain, or the explanations given don’t make sense.
Indicators that your teenage daughter/son may be in an unhealthy relationship:
- Apologizes and/or makes excuses for his/her partner’s behavior.
- Loses interest in activities that he/she used to enjoy.
- Stops seeing friends and family members and becomes more and more isolated.
- Casually mentions the partner’s violent behavior, but laughs it off as a joke.
- Often has unexplained injuries or the explanations often don’t make sense.
- Calls your teen names and puts him/her down in front of others.
- Acts extremely jealous of others who pay attention to your teen.
- Thinks or tells your teen that you, the parent(s), don’t like them.
- Controls your teen’s behavior, checking up constantly, calling or texting,
and demanding to know who he/she has been with.
- See the partner violently lose their temper, striking or breaking objects.
Information provided by Love Is Not Abuse, www.loveisnotabuse.com.
Warning signs that someone may be a perpetrator of sexual violence:
A person who:
- Tolerates sexual harassment or street harassment
- Has restrictive ideas about masculinity
- Believes that women should be responsible for keeping themselves safe
- Makes jokes about sexual assault or rape
- Makes light/joke about women not being valuable
- Lacks of healthy models for consent or consensual sex
- Thinks consumption of violent pornography or images of coercive or violent sexual acts
- Believes that alcohol will make sexual encounters better or women more willing to have sex
- Views the use of commercial sex (stripping, pornography, prostitution/escort services) as normal male activities or rites of passage
- Believes that certain groups are better than, or more deserving than others (sexism, racism, heterosexism, ableism, etc.)
Warning signs a child may have been sexually abused:
- An increase in physical complaints; loss of appetite, or trouble eating or swallowing
- Unexplained fear or dislike of certain people, places or situations
- Sudden mood or behavior changes: rage, fear, anger or withdrawal
- Nightmares, sleep disturbances or fear of bedtime
- Regression to infantile behaviors such as thumb-sucking or bed-wetting
- Pain, itching or bleeding in genital/rectal area; torn, stained or bloody underclothing
- Abnormal interest in sex or knowledge of sexual matters inappropriate for the child’s age
- Frequent genital or urinary tract infections or irritations
- Preoccupation with their body or excessive masturbation
- Refusing to talk about a “secret” he/she has with an adult or older child
In older children and teens you may see additional behaviors such as:
- Self-injury such as burning or cutting;
- Suicide attempts;
- School or discipline problems;
- Eating disorders;
- Low self esteem;
- Running away.
Characteristics of perpetrators of child sexual assault:
- Exhibits an unusual interest in a particular child or particular age or gender of children
- Socializes more with children than with adults
- Creates opportunities to spend time alone with children
- Insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or holding a child even when the child does not want this affection
- Encourages a lack of modesty or privacy around the home and on the part of children
- Discusses age inappropriate topics with a child
- Exhibits lack of interest in normal adult sexual relations
- Is overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child or teen (e.g., talks repeatedly about the child’s developing body or interferes with normal teen dating)
- Obsessively and/or frequently masturbates
- Expresses voyeuristic behaviors such as watching children bathe or play after they have changed into their pajamas
Information provided by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, www.nsvrc.org.