When an offender deliberately hurts a minor sexually, psychologically, physically, or through negligence, it is a criminal act called child abuse. This article centers on child sexual abuse, its warning signs, and why it is a priority for counselors and therapists to tackle.
Child Sexual Abuse
This is a type of child abuse that involves sexual acts with a minor. A child is not capable of giving consent to any sexual activity. When offenders engage with a minor this way, they are doing a criminal act that can yield longstanding effects on the minor for years. Sexual abuse in children does not necessarily have to involve physical contact between the minor and the offender. Other forms of child sexual abuse also comprise:
- Exposing one’s genitals to a child
- Masturbation in front of the child or forcing the child to masturbate
- Owning and sharing porn pictures or videos of minors
- Sex trafficking
- Any sexual behavior detrimental to a child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
What The Offender Looks Like
Most of the offenders are family or friends with the minor. More than 90% of the victims below the age of 18 are acquainted with the abuser. An offender is not necessarily an adult to be able to hurt the minor. He can connect with the minor, including a playmate, older sibling, teacher, caretaker, family member, or parent of another minor. Experts agree that child sexual abuse is caused by an abusive act that exploits a child’s defenselessness and is never connected to the gender of the abusive person.
Sex offenders can control their victims, so they keep mum about the abuse that took place, and they do this through various tactics. Often, the offender will take advantage of his position to cause fear to the minor. He may tell the minor that what they’re doing is usual or that both of them enjoyed it. An offender may also threaten the minor if he does not agree to participate in his plans. Ultimately, child sexual abuse does not only cause physical destruction – it is a destruction of authority and trust.
Warning Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse
It can often be daunting to identify. The abuser could be a person that you have known for some time now or someone you trust, which is why it can be even more difficult to notice. Take a look at the following significant signs.
- Bloody, tattered, or dirty underclothes
- Bruises or inflamed genital area
- Constant yeast or urinary infections
- Itching, burning, or painful genital area
- Abnormal sitting or walking posture
- Phobias develop
- Alterations in a child’s hygiene – she may not want to take a bath, or he takes a bath many times.
- Has difficulty in school, like being absent or drops out
- May have nightmares and wets the bed
- Presents with signs of PTSD, anxiety, or depression
- Leaves home
- He has suicidal ideations, which he verbally expresses
- Improper sexual behavior or knowledge
- Often scared of some physical contact
Studies have constantly revealed that child sexual abuse can produce deleterious effects on a child’s mental and physical health and future sexual ideas. Depending on the degree of and the number of unpleasant experiences, the abused child can manifest extensive and lifelong outcomes. Those who have gone through several traumas and got only very little parental attention and support may develop PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Their capacity to rely on others to care for them may also be endangered.
Unfortunately, when minors do not divulge sexual abuse and do not get efficient counseling, they might eventually struggle with their difficulties for a long, long time. As one child has stated, “Abuse is like a boomerang. If not dealt with, it could come back and harm you.” On the contrary, those who have found help through counseling and have support and care from parents heal and recover without existing longstanding effects.
Criteria For Selection
The criteria for choosing working interventions for the sexually abused child include:
- The intervention must be well-written in a book or treatment manual with available counseling training.
- The intervention was assessed for young children and teens that go through sexual assault or abuse as the primary trauma in one or several randomized clinical trials that were recorded pertinent treatment outcomes for alleviating symptoms of trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder.
- The intervention utilizes reliable, acceptable, and developmentally correct tools to evaluate outcomes.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a psychoeducational and evidence-based treatment regimen used for young children and teenagers affected by trauma. It is designed to decrease the prevalence of challenging sexual behaviors. CBT entails the participation of the child’s family and other support networks in the treatment and needs weekly attendance, monitoring, support, and continuing evaluation of the child’s improvement and success throughout the treatment.