Did you know that children from violent homes often display a variety of behavioral characteristics as a result of living in an unpredictable environment? Many of these characteristics are similar to those exhibited by children who have been abused in other ways.

Recent studies show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18 years, and that in homes where domestic violence is present, 50% of children living in those homes are abused physically and/or emotionally.

Characteristics of Children Suffering from Sexual Abuse

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Eating disturbances
  • Excessive fear or phobias of certain objects, people, places, or activities
  • Withdrawal, fantasy, or unusual acting out
  • Sexually provocative behavior, i.e., sexually acting out, showing unusual interest in sexual matters
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Fear of restrooms, showers, or baths (common locations of abuse)
  • Abrupt personality changes, extreme mood swings, fearfulness, or excessive crying
  • Anxieties, especially at naptime
  • Uncharacteristic aggression or rebelliousness

Physical Indicators:

  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Pain or itching in the genital area
  • Torn, stained, or bloody under-clothing
  • Frequent urinary infection
  • Genital discharge
  • Psychosomatic symptoms (frequent headaches or stomach aches)

Characteristics of Children Suffering from Domestic Abuse

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Aggressive behaviors and nightmares
  • Short attention span
  • Acting anxious and/or having nervous disorders
  • Bullying other children or being violent towards others
  • Appearing depressed, embarrassed, or humiliated
  • Appearing to feel powerless or worthless
  • Using violence to express frustration, anger, and stress
  • Appearing shy, lonely and fearful
  • Difficulty setting boundaries or often violating others’ space or rights
  • Self isolating from others

Physical Indicators:

  • Evidence of unexplained physical injury
  • Appearing to be emotionally or physically neglected
  • Bedwetting reversal, frequent headaches, and stomach aches
  • Frequently ill, absent from school

More Information

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