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What to Do If You Suspect Sexual Abuse Is Taking Place

Sexual abuse is a common crime in Utah and throughout the US. More than one in three women and one in four men experience sexual violence involving physical abuse during their lifetimes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both adults and children can experience sexual abuse. If you believe someone you know is the victim of sexual abuse or sexual violence, take immediate action to protect that person.

Signs of Sexual Abuse in Adults and Children

Everyone should learn at least the basic signs of sexual abuse. Sexual violence is a prevalent problem that impacts thousands of people around the country. If you are aware of the signs of sexual abuse, you may be able to intervene early and help a victim. You may also play a part in bringing the perpetrator to justice. Many physical and nonphysical signs could be red flags for sexual abuse in adults and children.

  • Physical signs such as bruising or injuries
  • Genital injuries, bleeding or discharge
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Unusual knowledge of sexual facts (in children)
  • A child regressing to younger habits or behaviors
  • A child having sudden outbursts or mood swings
  • Becoming withdrawn or isolated
  • Nightmares and trouble sleeping
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-harm and suicidal thoughts

Sexual abuse can refer to both physical and nonphysical sexual activity. All types of sexual abuse and sexual violence can have serious ramifications on a victim. The presence of one or two of these signs may not mean a person is suffering from sexual violence. Multiple indicators, however, could point to a problem. Talk to your friend or loved one about suspected sexual abuse. Let the person know that it is a safe space and that you believe him or her. Supporting sexual abuse survivors can save lives. Then, help the victim take immediate action to protect him or herself from further sexual abuse.

What to Do If You Suspect Sexual Abuse

Speak up about sexual abuse as soon as you notice anything strange or have a concern. Do not wait for hard evidence of sexual violence or harm. If you recognize warning signs, intervene immediately. First, open the lines of communication. Start a conversation with the victim about sexual abuse. Let the person or child know you are there for him or her. Make sure the victim does not feel isolated and knows that he or she is supported. Try to respond to the news of your child or someone you know experiencing sexual abuse in a controlled way, rather than with anger or strong emotions. Listen to the person’s story and ask how he or she wants you to help.

Next, seek professional help. It is important not to try to take on a sexual abuse case alone. Call a helpline, such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline, to speak to a trained sexual abuse professional. A representative at the hotline can connect you to important resources, such as a women’s shelter or the police. You can also call your local child welfare agency if you believe a child is experiencing sexual abuse. Call 911 if you believe there is an emergency sexual violence situation.

Locate trusted sources of information and support for the person who experienced sexual abuse. This can include therapy and psychologists. Professional help can prevent depression, anxiety, self-harm and other common issues connected to sexual abuse. Finally, contact a sexual abuse attorney in Layton for a free and 100% confidential consultation about a sexual abuse lawsuit. An attorney can represent the victim during a lawsuit against the perpetrator for justice and financial compensation. Contact the attorneys at Feller & Wendt 24/7 to request a free case review. You may have the power to make a real difference to the life of a sexual abuse survivor.

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