- Have a sudden fear of specific things, people, places (bathroom or the room where the abuse took place), etc.
- Act out inappropriate sexual activity or display unusual interest in sexual matters. Have temper tantrums, especially coinciding with visits to places or interaction with certain people.
- Display violent behavior such as kicking, hitting, bitingsurvivors feel extreme frustration and anger.
- Have mood swings, hitting, withdrawal (abused children often feel alone and helpless and withdraw into a shell), culminating into depression.
- Have difficulties with bed wetting or soiling.
- Experience nightmares (monsters, being chased or bogey men), fear of going to bed, or sleepwalking.
- Display physical symptoms of sexual abuse such as pain, itching, vaginal bleeding (bloodstains in panties or pajamas), discharge, redness in genital area, or bladder or kidney infections.
- Have difficulty walking or sitting.
- Experience stomach and digestive problems.
- Complain of flulike symptoms or not feeling well.
- Display listlessness (robotlike, sitting quietly and unemotionally until someone or something prompts the child to act).
- Induce selfinflicted pain (head banging, hair pulling, nail biting, body cutting or carving, frequent accidents that cause bodily damage).
- Display regressive behavior: baby talk, sudden clinging behavior.
- Display sudden unexplained aggressiveness or rebellion.
- Insert objects into genitals/rectum
- Act out sexual behavior on dolls or toys.
Elementary School-Age Children
Elementary school-age children will display signs listed in Preschool and:
- Complain about aches and pains, headaches and other psychosomatic ailments.
- Have unusual knowledge and interest in sex beyond developmental level.
- Display adult or sexualized behavior, (walking seductively, flirting, acting and talking like an adult).
- Have a sudden drop in grades, difficulty concentrating.
Teenagers will display signs listed in Preschool, Elementary School-Age Children, and:
- Have serious depression.
- Have inability to trust others.
- Act out self destructive behaviors: alcohol and/or drug use, eating disorders.
- Bathe excessively.
- Become secretive.
- Develop strategies for protection such as: layering, wearing baggy or safetypinning clothes or sleeping on the floor in the closet, under the bed or blocking their door.
- Act out pseudo maturity.
- Acquire sexually transmitted diseases.
- Have a dramatic increase in the frequency of masturbation or masturbation to the point of injury.
- Act out promiscuously.
- Experience serious confusion regarding sexual identity.
- Have an aversion toward opposite sex.
- Have sexual interest in other children.
Because children often believe a perpetrator’s threats or feel shame and guilt, they fail to report episodes of abuse. Parents need to be vigilant for signs and symptoms. Do not accept simple, reasonable explanations on these issues.
Ask Dr. Dorothy a Question!
Have You Ever Wondered If You Were Sexually Abused?
This provocative question/thought begs an answer. Most people, who have asked themselves or someone else asked that question often answer with —“I don’t think so.” “Yes, I have wondered, but, I don’t know who it would have been.” “My Dad would never do such a thing.” Or many other variations that leave the question unanswered.
Having worked with hundreds of sexual abuse survivors in the healing process for the past twenty-five years, the answer to the question—Have You Ever Wondered If You Were Sexually Abused?—is 99% inevitably, ‘Yes.’
How can you be so sure, you might ask? The certainty lies within the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is where ‘truth’ of memory is stored.
Furthermore, it is the unconscious mind’s job to push the memory into the conscious mind—thus, if the person ‘wonders’ if they were sexually abused even though they have no conscious memory—it is a clue that the unconscious mind is pushing the information to the conscious mind, so that the wounds can be healed.
What can one do if one wonders, but doesn’t have any definitive memory? Many people believe that ‘What you don’t know won’t hurt you.’ This myth has proliferated many centuries and doesn’t hold true for any issue.
Because of a child’s innocence and often dependence on her/his perpetrator, sexual abuse is not only a violation of his/her body, emotional and spiritual boundaries, it is a violation of his/her trust. In this respect, the sexual aspect is secondary.
The person she/he trusted with his/her innocence, instead of giving her love, has taken what she/her wanted from him/her, terrorized, hurt, humiliated, controlled, disgraced and shattered his/her perception of him/herself and the relationship with the perpetrator. Although the perpetrator emphasized his love for her/him, he/she perpetrated a violence that did not require force.
In this violence, described as love, he robbed the child of the opportunity to develop into a healthy, adjusted adult. The perpetrator abrogated his/her responsibility to care for and protect the child.
This insidious betrayal so profoundly affects a child’s sense of trust that the survivor works mightily to regain fully what is a birthright.
Whether the assault occurred once or several times is irrelevant, since the damage is incurred immediately. This damage is profound, extensive and pervasive.
Sexual abuse and incest affect every aspect of human development. A soul injury forms as the result of sexual abuse: an injury that time, education, job, money, marriage, children, moving, or divorce cannot heal.
An injury so deeply wounding and traumatizing that it requires more resolution than reading books, self-help groups or undertaking intellectual analysis. Children or adults who have been sexually abused, do not ‘get over’ the devastation as they would with the measles or a virus. Without sexual abuse recovery, millions of adult sexual abuse/incest survivors continue to bear the emotional scars.
Think back to your childhood do you have any of the following memories?
• a sudden fear of specific things, people, places (bathroom or —i.e. the room where the abuse took place)?
• act out inappropriate sexual activity or display unusual interest in sexual matters
• temper tantrums, especially coinciding with visits to places or interaction with certain people?
• violent behavior such as: kicking, hitting, biting—survivors feel extreme frustration and anger.
• mood swings, hitting, withdrawal (abused children often feel alone, helpless and withdraw into a shell), culminating into depression.
• difficulties with bed wetting or soiling after 4 years of age?
• nightmares (monsters, being chased or bogey men), fear of going to bed or sleepwalking?
• physical symptoms of sexual abuse such as: vaginal/rectal pain, itching, vaginal/rectal bleeding (bloodstains in underwear or pajamas), discharge, redness in genital area, or bladder/kidney infections
• difficulty walking or sitting
• stomach and digestive problems
• complain of flu-like symptoms or not feeling well frequently
• listlessness (robot-like, sitting quietly and unemotional staring into space until someone or something prompted you to ‘act.’)
• self-inflicted pain (head banging, hair pulling, nail biting, body cutting/carving, frequent accidents (accident prone)
• regressive behavior: baby talk, sudden clinging behavior
• unexplained aggressiveness or rebellion
• inserting objects into genitals/rectum—act out sexual behavior on dolls, toys or other children
• aches and pains, headaches and other psychosomatic ailments
• unusual knowledge and interest in sex beyond developmental level
• panic attacks or anxiety
• beginning stage of eating disorders
• displaying adult or sexualized behavior (walking seductively, flirting, acting and talking like an adult).
• drop in grades, difficulty concentrating
• serious depression
• inability to trust others
• acting out self-destructive behaviors: alcohol and/or drug use, eating disorders
• bathe excessively
• feeling the need to be secretive
• sense of carrying a deep dark secret
• develop strategies for protection such as: layering, wearing baggy or safety-pinning clothes; sleeping on the floor; in the closet, under the bed or blocking your bedroom door
• acting out pseudo maturity
• sexually transmitted diseases
• a dramatic increase in the frequency of masturbation or masturbation to the point of injury
• acting out promiscuously
• serious confusion regarding sexual identity
• an aversion toward opposite sex
• sexual interest in younger children
As an adult have you experienced, but not limited to the following complaints?
• Little or no memory of childhood—age 3 to 12
• Anxiety or Panic Attacks
• Gastrointestinal disorders
• Gynecological disorders
• Vaginal/uterine cancer-women,
• Testicular/prostate cancer-men
• Frequent Headaches (migraines)
• Arthritis (especially hands,legs)
• Joint pain
• Back pain—L3, L4 and/or L5 region
• Eating disorders
• Alcohol or drug abuse
• Low self-esteem
• ADD or ADHD
• Suicidal thoughts/attempts
• Reoccuring Dreams of threat or entrapment
• Reoccuring Dreams of rats or snakes, being chasted by a man/men or dogs
• Inability to trust or trusting indiscriminately
If you have experienced one or more of these symptoms the chances of your being a sexual abuse survivor or a physical trauma survivor which transended into sexual abuse aftereffects is exceedingly high.
What To Do: If you wonder or suspect you were sexually abused contact a professional who specializes in sexual abuse/incest recovery and provides a mind, body spirit healing process.
Talk therapy is inadequate to uncover the emotional pain, and heal the trauma trapped in the unconscious, muscles and tissue.
Furthermore, talk therapy seldom includes spiritual healing–i.e. healing soul injuries. To fully appreciate the depth of this pain, I will quote one of my clients, “Even my blood hurts.”
A multifaceted healing—mind, body, spirit process specifically focused on sexual abuse recovery and diligent work is the most effective process; wherein the survivor can replenish their emotional, physical, spiritual identity and empowerment.
~ ~ ~
Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, author, international speaker and inspirational leader empowers people to meet life’s challenges as an opportunity for Personal/Professional Growth and Spiritual Awakening. Author of If I’d Only Known…Sexual Abuse in or out of the Family: A Guide to Prevention, she has over twenty years experience. https://drdorothy.net