Behavioral Problems

Behaviors demonstrated by the child victim following sexual abuse vary from child to child.  Problem behaviors can arise in all areas of the child's life. These may include:

  • Sexual acting-out  
  • Angry acting-out, aggression and fighting
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Learning difficulties 
  • Bedwetting and bowel control problems
  • Insomnia
  • Behavior problems at school or during other activities
  • Withdrawing and isolating
  • Unusual shynss 
  • Unusual memory loss
  • Dissociation - demonstrated as "spacing out"  
  • Running away
  • Compulsive behaviors 
  • Unexplained medical problems' hyper-awareness of physical symptoms 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Stealing or other delinquent-type behaviors
  • Depressionanxiety, and PTSD symptoms 
  • Self-harm (e.g., cutting, burning self)
  • Suicidal and homicidal comments or threats
  • Frequent accidents
  • Attention-seeking from strangers and others, that is significantly beyond the norm

These behaviors are warning signs that sexual abuse has occurred. View them as red flags that your child is experiencing problems. Keep communication with your child open. If several of these symptoms are occurring, seek professional services. Following disclosure, mothers can expect to see some of these behaviors. Talking with the child about the feelings associated with the behaviors and regularly scheduled counseling will help the child learn to self-regulate behavior. 



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