Child abuse can haunt a person for the rest of their lives, even if the incident happened only once. Whenever a perpetrator intentionally harms a child, be it through physical, psychological, neglectful, or sexual means, this is child abuse. Sexual abuse can be one of the most horrifying things a child can experience. It often leads to PTSD, depression, and intense psychological distress.
If you or a family member is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, you may need a childhood sexual abuse lawyer, like one you can find at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt. Trusted and experienced, our firm can help you take the legal actions you need to get justice.
What Constitutes Childhood Sexual Abuse?
Childhood sexual abuse occurs when an abuser does any kind of sexual activity with a minor, but this does not only include physically assaulting a child. A child can, in no way, consent to any sexual activity, and involving a child in any of these activities can result in a wide variety of psychological disorders.
Some of these activities include:
- Fondling a minor
- Forcing a minor to masturbate or masturbation in front of a minor
- Obscene conversations (in-person, phone calls, texting, or chatting)
- Exhibitionism, and any purposeful exposing of nakedness to a child with sexual intent
- Making, owning, or distributing pornographic content including minors
- Sex trafficking
- Intercourse of any kind
How Does Childhood Sexual Abuse Happen?
You may trust the people you have your child around; however, most sexual assaults occur between a child and someone that they are familiar with.
An abuser does not have to be another adult to sexually abuse a child, and any child can be taken advantage of by someone bigger than them. Child abuse can be perpetrated by a person that a child should trust the most. This includes but does not limit other abusers like a parent, an older sibling, an aunt or uncle, a teacher, coach, instructor, or even another child’s parent. It’s about someone taking advantage of a child’s vulnerability.
It can be complicated or impossible to understand why someone you or an abused child has trusted before would sexually assault them, but it can—and does—happen. An abuser may intimidate or coerce a child into remaining quiet about their abuse for a long time. Because the person may be trusted by other people the child is close to, they may have a hard time opening up about their abuser. This causes emotional distress in a child on several levels. On the most obvious level, it’s traumatic because the child was physically assaulted. Secondarily, the child has also had their trust abused.
What to Look for in a Child Who May Have Experienced Sexual Abuse:
Oftentimes, a child may not say anything to a parent or trusted adult about abuse that they have endured, but they may show various body language indicators or behavioral changes that may signify a traumatic experience. By keeping an eye out for strange behavior in a child, you can help them open up about their experiences and prevent them from being victims of another assault.
Here are some physical signs and behaviors you should keep an eye out for if you suspect a child is being sexually abused.
- Issues and discomfort while walking or sitting
- Quickly recurring urinary tract or yeast infections
- Unusually blood-stained, stained, or torn underclothes
- Complaints of itching, pain, or burning on the genital area
- Bruises on arms and legs
- Bruises, swelling, or unusual bleeding around the genital area
- Rapidly developing phobias
- Adolescents who often verbalize suicidal thoughts
- Sudden changes in engagement at school (drops in grades or excessive absences)
- Suicide attempts
- Verbalizing or performing self-harm
- Nightmares, night terrors, and sudden bedwetting
- Becoming overprotective of younger children
- Flinching or shrinking away from attempts to touch them
- Regression to behaviors associated with small children
When to Consult with an Experienced Sexual Abuse Lawyer
If you’ve seen any suspicious changes in the behavior of your child, or someone near your child, you should attempt to ask your child about any abuse that might have occurred. You can sue your perpetrator for physical, emotional, and general distress caused by this abuse in a personal injury suit against the abuser.
If you need legal help filing criminal charges against the person who’s abused you or your child, choose Pennsylvania’s finest lawyers to make your case for you. Find or contact us, or call McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt directly at 1-800-590-4116.