How Children Communicate About Sexual Abuse

Body language: Since the first language that children speak is body language, watch for behavioral indicators that show that the child is either distressed or physically injured.

Look carefully for signs of withdrawal, a painful or odd gait, reluctance or stiffening of the body when touched, increased activity level, or aggressive behavior.

The rule of children is “do unto others as has been done unto you”. A child may repeat with others what exactly was done to them. Unlike sex play, where the actions between two people are consensual, in this situation one child will force another to participate in sexual acts. Children do not like being the victims of acts which confuse or hurt them, so they become the aggressors and do to others what has been done to them.

The Language of Play: Children upto 10 years usually express themselves most freely through play. The child can use any object to represent the people involved.

For eg:- A stone might represent the girl involved, a stick might be her teacher, and small pebbles might be her classmates.

Spoken Language: When children tell you a story, they are either repeating a story they have heard or the story represents their experience, often in a disguised form.

Children can be afraid or ashamed of telling the events directly, so they tell the story in a fable form. The ability of children to relate the story directly is most developed in teenagers because by then they have a large store of experiences with which to understand events like sexual abuse.

In contrast, young children will use experiences they already know to describe new experiences, so their stories might sound odd or unbelievable. The absurdness or uniqueness of their stories should be considered with more care rather than pushing them away to understand what the child is saying without actually using the words that clearly describe sexual abuse.

Other Expressive Tools: Children can often use drawings to show what happened to them. Like play, these drawings can be disguised versions of the event or may directly show what occurred. The younger the child, the more likely they will illustrate the event in a disguised form.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *