Common misunderstandings of sexual abuse Many misunderstandings surround the sexual abuse of girls and boys. Children rarely lie or imagine sexual abuse. Children will often tell little bits of information at a time to test the reactions of adults.
They were usually abused by someone they knew. Many abusers threaten the child to prevent disclosure. Most people feel a range of emotions, including anger, sadness, shock, disbelief, disgust and helplessness. Remember, you may be the only person who can help stop the abuse by reporting your concerns. You can also get advice or report your concerns anonymously to the NSPCC by phoning their free helpline on You may notice that an abuser gives a child special treatment, offering them gifts, treats and outings. The child has enough secrets and needs someone to act on their behalf to stop the abuse. Changes in behaviour — a child may start being aggressive, withdrawn, clingy, have difficulties sleeping or start wetting the bed. It is important to stay calm and not convey your feelings to the child, as this may prevent the child from saying any more. Child sexual exploitation Children who have been sexually abused are also at risk of sexual exploitation, in which children are sometimes passed around a network of abusers for sexual purposes. Sexual abuse is experienced by girls and boys. Common misunderstandings of sexual abuse Many misunderstandings surround the sexual abuse of girls and boys. Avoiding the abuser — the child may dislike or seem afraid of a particular person and try to avoid spending time alone with them. Their reasons for being afraid included: People who sexually abuse children can be adult, adolescent or a child themselves. What is child sexual abuse? Most abusers are male but females sometimes abuse children too. Children who live in families where there is child neglect, for example, are more at risk. Some of these include: Children are not responsible for sexual abuse. What are the signs that a child is being sexually abused? Children cannot stop sexual abuse. If children are being sexually abused, there may be physical signs such as bleeding from the vagina or anus back passage , sexually transmitted infections STIs or poor hygiene. Some abusers are female. Explain what action you will take next.
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