One of the warning signs of sexual abuse is depression. Children experiencing sexual abuse often exhibit depression. After disclosure children may show symptoms of depression. Some of the symptoms of depression include:
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Withdrawing and isolating
  • Showing no interest in previous activities or peer relationships
  • Drop in grades at school or dropping out of recreational or social events
  • Self-harm such as cutting
  • Talking about suicide 

Sometimes the child does not directly exhibit signs of depression but may instead appear tired or complain of tiredness. The child could also complain of physical symptoms and illness that doctors are unable to confirm through diagnostic procedures. These are also signs of depression, a "crying out" in a different form. 

The extent of depression experienced by a child sexual abuse victim is associated with the length of time the abuse occurred, its severity, and the identity of the perpetrator. These factors affect the child's ability to see the world as a safe place, ultimately leading to despair and a sense of hopelessness. In this place of despair, the child, youth, or adult may consider suicide as an option to release themselves from the pain. Any child demonstrating these symptoms needs to be seeing a counselor on a regular basis. In some situations, hospitalization or placement away from the home is best for the child's safety and healing. Mothers and other family members also need to see a counselor to deal with thoughts and feelings related to the abuse.   

Child protective factors include the child's coping abilities, available support, and resilience. Children can be taught coping skills, resilience, and self-protection. However, it is the mother's responsibility to assure the child's safety and protect the child.  


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