Teens going through sexual abuse is a serious issue that happens worldwide. This leaves victims ashamed and afraid to speak up about their abuse. It’s important for us as responsible adults to notice any differing behavior and make sure that the teenager is safe. We need to be able to watch for any signs of possible sexual abuse so we can act swiftly. Some factors point towards a young teen going through this type of abuse that if not spotted fast enough, could result in the teenager getting hurt.
Sudden Behavioral Changes
An obvious sign of teen sexual abuse is noticing their behavior suddenly changing. Younger folk who are dealing with this type of abuse typically start to withdraw themselves from their normal activities. Some teenagers who are live and bubbly soon start to shut everyone out. Their grades might start to decline because of the mental strain from the abuse. These sudden changes shouldn’t go unnoticed as they could be a sign of something greater. It’s important to check in with these teens to make sure everything is alright.
Teenagers who experience sexual abuse go through a lot of emotional distress. Victims may be dealing with feelings of shame and fear of being found out. They may start to develop depression or PTSD from the continual abuse. This is typical when teens are stuffing their feelings and hiding the truth. If you notice the sudden mood changes, reach out to talk to them. Show that you’re a safe adult to be around to find out what the actual problem is.
Sexualized Behavior and Knowledge
There are cases where abused teens may try to act older for their age. Display inappropriate behavior or wear more revealing clothing. They may start pretending to act in sexual acts or become more promiscuous than they should at their age. This can be concerning because teenagers should not know these types of acts in the first place. They show signs of possibly being abused or being exposed to content that is too mature for them.
Regressing in Behavior
Regression to earlier developmental stages is another potential sign of sexual abuse. Teens who previously went to the bathroom normally may begin bedwetting again or engaging in other childlike behaviors. These behaviors are typically out of the ordinary and are worth asking questions. This regression is often a subconscious coping mechanism in response to the trauma they have endured. That way the teenager can continue with the abuse without having to point out the problem.
Issues in Relationships
Pay attention to changes in the way your teenager interacts with others. Especially if this behavior is out of the ordinary. Victims of sexual abuse may become more socially isolated or avoid specific individuals, even family members or close friends. Some may become overly attached to certain individuals, seeking constant reassurance and validation. If this doesn’t fit with how they usually ask, it’s time to check in on them.
Self-harm and Suicidal Ideation
Teens going through this type of abuse tend to start feeling hopeless and dreading their lives/ This leaves them to start harming themselves or engaging in reckless activities. Whatever they can do to start feeling anything. In other cases, they just stop caring for their well-being. Sometimes they turn towards substance abuse or any way to cope with these heavy feelings. If they start saying self-deprecating things or thoughts of taking their own life, take everything they say seriously. Make sure to reach out to professional help if you feel your teenager is a danger to themselves.
While not always present, physical symptoms can also be indicative of sexual abuse. These may include unexplained pain, bleeding, or infections in the genital or anal areas. These types of symptoms aren’t normal. If your teenager exhibits these symptoms, consult a healthcare professional immediately. They should give you a second opinion and extra help if your teen is in that position.
Sexual abuse towards teenagers is an issue that requires attention from everyone and quick thinking. It’s important to look out for these signs to put a stop to and help the victim. You need to make it clear that communication between you and your teenager is safe with no judgment. This is a sensitive matter that needs to be taken lightly. You don’t want to do or say anything that could trigger the victim. Once you have all the information, be sure to report this abuse to the authorities and get the teen away from the abuser.