Brochure 1 English

   There are various possible physical and behavioural indicators of child sexual abuse. The signs of any trauma can be catagorised in various groups:


General Post-traumatic stress symptoms – not necessarily of sexual abuse, are:

• Complaint of stomach and/or abdominal pain.

• Radical change of appearance

• Showing unusual fear for a certain place or location.

• Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities.

• Signs of exhaustion or lack of sleep.

• Late arrival or absence from school

• Fluctuations in mood

• Self-mutilation or self-harm

• Inability to concentrate

• Locking doors

• Very eager to please others [over-compliance]

• Change in appetite

• Running away

• Not wanting friends to visit at home

• Not wanting to go home or getting home too early

• Waking up during the night sweating, screaming or shaking with nightmares.

• Showing unusually aggressive behaviour towards family members, friends, toys, pets.


Signs related to possible sexual abuse

Physical indicators

• Any injury, soreness, redness, swelling or itching around the genital or anal area.

• Bleeding from the genital or anal area.

• Evidence of regressive bedwetting, incontinence.

• Recurrent urinary tract infections.

• Foul odours emanating from genital area.

• Vaginal or penile discharge

• Lubricant residue

• Venereal disease

• Pregnancy

• Complaining of pain while urinating or while having a bowel movement.


Behavioural indicators:

• inappropriate sexual play with self and others

• inappropriate sexually explicit drawings

• knowledge of sexual acts that is inappropriate for age

• seductive behaviour

• excessive [inappropriate] masturbation

• promiscuity

** Rarely is one indicator conclusive proof that a child has been abused. In most cases, a child will present

with a group of both behavioural and physical indicators.


What to do when you know or suspect that your child has been sexually abused or assaulted.

1.        Do not bath or wash the child.

2.        You need to report this to the nearest police station as well as to the local statutory organisation

           such as CAFDA, Child Welfare or Social Development as soon as possible. This is required by law.

3.        At the police station, a specialist FCS officer [Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences

           Unit] must be called out by the police to talk to you and the child. You may request a female FCS


4.        The FCS officer can also come to your house to investigate the allegations if you do not wish to stay

           at the police station.

5.        If you decide to stay at the police station, you must ask to go to the victims’ support room. This is a

           child friendly room.

6.        The FCS Officer will take a statement.

7.        After talking to the FCS Officer, the child must be examined by the District Surgeon.

8.        The District Surgeon will fill out a form called the J88 form. This is a medical legal document that

           will be used for the police docket and in the court. Without this form there is little chance of

           prosecution as this forms part of the evidence.

9.        You may ask that the child be sedated during the examination as this will lessen further trauma.

10.       The police will open the case file and give you a case number. This is called the CAS number.

11.       The child’s safety needs to be ensured.

12.       A statutory social worker will be assigned to the case to assist the child and the family. If the

           perpetrator is a family member, the social worker will decide the best way to ensure the safety of

           the child. Often it is the perpetrator who has to leave the family home.

13.       The Victims’ Service Charter enables you to know your rights and claim them from the service

           providers [police, hospital staff, social services and all other departments of various government

           institutions who work with victims of crime.]

14. Claim your rights.


© Norah Papanicolaou