(Note for mothers in particular) Not all sexual abuse situations involve some form of penetration but for those that do – this tip is a definite consideration, especially if the child is in his/her prepubescent years.
GIRLS - If a young girl is giving off a foul odor or discharge from the vaginal area; it is highly likely that she is having some form of intercourse. What I found most interesting is that the 3 different females who had sexually abused me – all had the exact same foul smell in the vaginal area. The best description that I can give of this odor is a combination of dead fish and very sour milk. You may find very odd or strangely colored strains in her underwear as well.
BOYS – You may find blood drops or stains in the child’s underwear. You may also see very strange colored stains and streaks on their clothing or bedding. Since parents often do their children's laundry, it is important to be aware and keep an eye out for such issues.
If your child is showing signs of any or all of these symptoms - I encourage you to (FIRST) take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Your first priority should be to secure the child’s trust and help him/her feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Please, try not to outwardly show or express rage, anger or contempt, in the presence of the child because that would only frighten the child and may cause them to shut down or further withdraw. That’s not to say that you don’t have every right to feel the way you do - but remember; this is a very sensitive and delicate matter and as a parent or guardian – you/we must handle it as such.
The next step is THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE! Start off by talking to the child as mildly and calmly as possible in order to get a confession (if applicable). If you learn that the abuse is happening with another child – I suggest that you approach the parent of that child regarding the matter and let the parent address it with their own child. If you learn that the abuse is from the hands of an adult – I would strongly advise that you reach out to law enforcement- EVEN IF IT IS A RELATIVE. Many people turn a blind eye when an adult relative is involved but they fail to realize that by not exposing this individual, we indirectly consent to the continuation of the abuse. Trust me, adults who have sexually abused one child more than likely done it to others and will continue to do so! THE SILENCE IS WHAT INDIRECTLY EMBOLDENS THE ABUSERS!
Should you discover that your child was/is being abused – seek professional support in the form of support groups and counselors that specialize in this type of abuse. Equally, if not more important, shower the child with as much love, understanding and support as possible. Be sure to consistently reinforce your role to protect, guide and lead them. Be sure that you remind the child that you do not blame them for these occurrences and that he/she should never blame themselves.
In closing, I would strongly suggest that all who are reading this strongly work towards ‘normalizing’ the conversation about child sexual abuse. The more we talk about it with one another and with our children, the most they will feel safe to speak or tell of it, if/when the abuse occurs. When abusers know that there’s a high possibility that a child will report what has happened, he/she will be less likely to give into their impulses or urges to engage in criminal and predatory behavior. One of the strengths in adolescents is that they are much less able to repress or hide their emotional wounds and pain. When they encounter trauma it is much quicker to express itself, through whatever avenue is most immediate or readily available. Let these steps guide you in recognizing these warning signs so that you can stop abuse in its tracks!