Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse

I found this insightful (if concise) article via Twitter today. I was utterly astounded by how much of it describes my behaviour after my uncle raped me when I was about 10.

I don’t really fancy getting into the ins and outs of the incident at the minute, though I’ll explore it more in a future post.  For now, though, these are the paragraphs that resonated so strongly with me:

The most common symptom for children is sleep disturbance or more specifically nightmares.  They don’t seem to be able to be explicit in describing what is happening in their dreams but they do know that “it is bad.”  Children that have been abused have advanced knowledge beyond their years about sex and they often act very seductive or sexually inappropriate around adults.  They are usually angry and either will cry or they are aggressive towards younger children without exactly knowing why they are behaving in that manner.  Often times in younger children they  display regressed behaviors, such as talking like a baby or they start wetting the bed.  In older children, they will often begin finding places in the house in which to touch themselves or masturbate.

Other symptoms that may be present are self-mutilation, usually seen in older children, lying or stealing, sudden changes in behavior, running away from home, eating disorders*, excessive fears, drugs/alcohol**, or threatening to kill themselves. There is no one sign/symptom or behavior that is proof that a child has been sexually abused, however these are some key symptoms for parents to look for to help them determine if abuse has occurred.  As always, a professional whether it is a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or a mental health professional should be consulted in order to assist with the behavioral/emotional symptoms that are being displayed.

(c) Tara Tamanini, Kid Awareness Series

The italics are mine, denoting signs that I exhibited.

* -ish.  I often behaved in a psuedo-bulimic fashion, throwing up my food for no reason other than not wanting to gain more weight.  But not often enough, I think, to actually be considered to have that illness.

** I started drinking when I was very young – perhaps 12.  No drugs, though.

As I’ve stated several times before, I think very little about my late childhood and early adolescence, but this brings back a lot.  Whilst recognising objectively that I have no reason to feel to blame, I am so horribly ashamed nevertheless.

Ashamed that I flirted with anyone, especially him, ashamed that it was seemingly a catalyst for my fairly early sexual self-explorations, ashamed that I lied and stole at times, ashamed of my aggression (which still hasn’t gone away), ashamed that I ever let any of it happen.

It makes my fucking skin crawl.  But I am glad I found this article.  As long-term readers of this blog know, I’ve been quite neurotic about MW, my uncle’s great-grandson.  This is now especially troubling as MW’s mother, SL, is due to have her second child in early 2010. Whilst I am terribly concerned for MW and any future brothers he may have, I’m pathologically terrified that SL will have a daughter.

I know that child sex abuse is not really so much about the perpetrator’s sexual orientation as about the fact the victims are children, and, of course, about the perpetrator’s power (as is the case in any instance of sexual abuse).  Nevertheless, although I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he would act inappropriately towards a male child, I am (perhaps irrationally) terrified that a female is at an even greater risk.

Whilst obviously this article is short and therefore far from definitive, it is a half-decent start.  The problem is, without ruining the family and potentially putting the children in further risk, what can be done before he touches any of them up?  All of these signs are reflective – ie. something will already had to have happened for anyone to recognise them.  For very obvious reasons, I’d rather pre-empt any abuse.

A thinks it’s unlikely that anything is likely to happen. MMcF’s husband is getting on in life, I’ve seen no evidence that any of the other generations have been effected and, due to his medication, he is exhausted and sleepy all the time. I can appreciate that it’s unlikely, at a rational level.  But is that enough?  ‘Unlikely’, almost by definition, is suggestive that there is still a possibility.  And that’s what scares the fuck out of me.


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14 Responses to “Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse”

  1. Oh sweetie. There’s something about reading that that slaps you across the face isn’t there. How much damage people do to one another.

    As you know I understand your fears. I wish I could come up with some solution but I can’t. I’m sorry.

    Hugs x

    • Please don’t apologise pet. Of course there are no solutions; you know that all too well yourself.

      This kind of situation is not at all simple or easy, and I’m not sure there are any answers. We can only deal with things as and when they come up, I suppose.

      I do appreciate all your support, you know, and wish that you weren’t going through a similar (worse) situation.

      Take care hun, big hugs xxx

  2. […] Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse « Confessions of a Serial Insomniac serialinsomniac.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/signs-of-childhood-sexual-abuse – view page – cached I found this insightful (if concise) article via Twitter today. I was utterly astounded by how much of it describes my behaviour after my uncle raped me when I was about 10. — From the page […]

  3. It’s been a couple of days since I first read this… Took me a while to gather my thoughts before I was able to comment, because the fury that welled up in me while reading it would not dispel… And to be 100% honest, what I wanted to say would scare half your readers away and make people think I’m a violent homicidal maniac… I’m not, but sometimes I wish I were…

    Anyway, this is for you… Its what I have to say. I hope you like it.

    p.s. You’ve been through hell and back and I admire your strength & unabashed honesty. You are truly an inspiration. My new muse. 😉

    I’m sometimes still just a little girl,
    Entranced by the obscure world around me…
    I live in a dollhouse of melted plastic
    Which houses my
    Once lovely dresses,
    Now faded and mildewed.
    Decorator colors rot and decompose
    Into ash,
    Leaving a trail of brown hues
    A rainbow of vomit.

    Companions painted by their disposal
    And decorated faces stained with lead based
    Make-me-pretties…
    They don’t know.

    My secret nightmare is
    Burying me alive.
    It’s like trying to plant wildflowers in a dead
    And sunburned field;
    Only to watch thirst
    Slither serpentine and lethargically
    Across a possessed high way.

    Good intensions and
    Suicidal tendencies
    Wavering above the pavement.
    Rippling reality,
    Faded,
    Orange and grey…
    Polyurethane potential
    To keep the furniture clean.

    Spandex and propane,
    Pretty ribbons and lace,
    Rusty nails and prying eyes…
    Keep your innocence to yourself.
    I’ll take my smiles and sell them
    In this dusty driveway to
    Alienated passers-by.

    Like ambrosia (amnesia) made with rotten fruit,
    I’m corroded and caustic –
    Stop this mental bleeding!!

    This is my doll house.
    My inconsistent foundation.
    (Revlon Age Defying / 01/ fresh ivory)
    My wilted pictures and their splintered framework.
    My deflated gizmos…
    (my deflated ego)
    (my deflated inner tube –> how can I stay afloat now?)
    These are my shiny trinkets,
    No matter how rusted or poisoned.
    My kitsch,
    My excess,
    MY torn emotions
    And tattered promiscuity.
    This is my inner lunatic,
    And you can’t have her.
    I pay my homage,
    And my way-past-dues.
    This is my wet fire and I’ll let it consume me!

    Possum rhythm charm…
    Snapped rubber band, bloodied by the sting…
    Your intruding fingers…
    DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME!

    The sun is faded and over rated.
    Phases of my body,
    Shifting like dirt;
    Sifting for anything human…
    Anything to remind us
    Of how dead we really are.

    Discolored movies project(il)ed across the walls
    With molded bread and cheese
    From yesterdays gone by…
    This is my doll house.

    Yes, this is my dollhouse…
    My decrepit carnival out back,
    (insert carnival music here)
    My nicotine stained wall paper,
    My fucking rat poison,
    My weak threads that break when bitten,
    My plastic furniture,
    (don’t sit on that, honey!)
    My plastic flowers
    In a melted Aquanet paradise.
    This is MY dirty bedroom
    And you won’t lay a fucking hand on me.

    I turn my head off…
    It’s like eating some evaporated fish
    And now my insides are polluted with decay.
    Let’s see you cross this trembling highway now MOTHERFUCKER.
    This is my corner where I can pout
    Because I was a GOOD bad girl today.

    These are my mistakes…
    Persistent as these dead roses
    Who refuse to be tossed out with last Tuesday’s news,
    This is my cross to bear,
    But it’s not nearly as heavy
    As the weight of your loathsome betrayal.

    • What a wonderful, touching, thoughtful thing to leave me here, Kim. Thank you. I am genuinely very moved that you took the time to do this, and that’s not an emotion I experience very easily. I would like to say something that adequately conveys how touched I am and indeed my gratitude, but mere words – at least, not my own mere words – seem inadequate.

      So just…thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

      Mega hugs xxxx

  4. powerful poem. so many of us don’t have the courage to put it down. some of us don’t even have the courage to remember it, dissociating instead, because it is easier. life is fucked, but do you know what? we didn’t let the fuckers win. we survived, a little psychologically challenged, but we survived.
    as above, thank you for sharing that
    Lissy ((hug))

    • I think that if things would have been easier for us, we wouldn’t be the amazing people we are today. Out of shit comes roses…

      big {{{hugsss}}} for my thorny friends. i’m proud of you guys.

      • You are welcome Lissy and thank you for commenting – I can completely understand the need to dissociate and not remember; as it happens from a certain point onwards I only have fleeting memories and want to keep it that way, though therapy might force me to recall more, who knows.

        You are both right, though, that it’s shit being thrown at us that makes us stronger. Obviously this was a vile experience but in an odd way it has shaped me, just as your own negative experiences did to you. And you are both wonderful people right as you are now, despite it all.

        Thank you both, and indeed thank you all that I have the pleasure to correspond with online. Sometimes I really doubt if I would still be here but for you folks.

        Another (((((GROUP HUG))))) xxx

  5. Big Daddy - Tom Dwyer Says:

    Hugs to all of you girls.. 😦

    Nothing can be said .. to help ur pain.. But ur not alone.

    My name is Tom – A new friend of KIMS (see poem)

    Today I woke and read MORE news of a little child found dead on side of road.. I’m a guy and I cry. Somewhere in Georgia… they said on the news.. then went onto the weather report.. and comercials… It always stabs me in the heart – consumes me with dread and sadness.. Why do we report these things if we as a group will never do anything to stop these people?

    SOMEHOW – I go from this horrible story today – to this blog????

    If I had my way – The evil bums would be shot on site.

    Why do people have to mess with children..

    Why do people have to mess with children..

    Times like these – I wish I was a quality writer Kim.. (this is your fault..lol)

    I suck at writing.. So bare with me.
    These are just random recalls of well what happened to me and my family

    Disclaimer –
    (***I wrote this whole reply out after reading the post on this blog.. (By the last sentence I was ready to delete it.. I made my STAND I thought – These people are on their own… I’m 2 years out of a major life downer
    I almost died (unrelated to story) and I had all this SHIT (this word works good here) and I survived – I actually did REALLY fucking good in life too… How about fucking that! HOWIE!)

    Howie is the MONSTER.

    Then I re-read the post – (about the boys…) and something says (AGAIN)
    to hit the clicker.. Don’t ever stay quiet about evil nut cases like these peds… (If you’re able) I was leaving my name out of this long winded reply (RANT – I ALWAYS RANT!)too..(Why no name..? Maybe my new friend KIM will go away.. I thought – and I like KIM.. She get’s me “a little”

    Back to my GUT.. thinking.

    I’ll take the EDUCATED GUESS KIM WON’T LEAVE and HOPE for the BEST) I already shared the WHOLE story anyways..with my whole city (for two years they heard me on this subject – and many – rolled their eyes and walked away) If you can deal with that – YOU CAN DEAL WITH almost anything.

    Mom always said.. If it don’t kill ya – it makes you stronger. (she was right)

    IT SHOULD NOT BE THIS WAY!!! Don’t they get it?? It could be THEIR KIDS NEXT? (Maybe it was already??) What is wrong with people?

    I’ve learned – It’s not my problem to solve everyones problems.. WE ARE ALL ON OUR OWN LONLEY ROAD IN LIFE REALY? NO?
    – People need to get there on their own,in their own time. Hiding is part of the pain (And it’s a major part of the pedifiles game – Try if you can to not let them have the edge)

    BLOCKS LIFTED OFF MY SHOULDERS WHEN I WENT TO THE COPS – EXPOSED THIS BUM. I could breath a DEEP breath.. (I tried)

    I’m OK now. (I really am) but still AGAIN – Those that CAN should NOT stay quiet and PLAY THEIR GAME.. I exposed the man in this horror story for girls like AMY (read on) and I guess for girls like you.. But mostly I did it for WHAT I THOUGHT WOULD BE FUTURE VICTIMS! As an adult – “I” knew I had to DO SOMETHING.. I was waiting for someone else to do it..
    NO ONE – Not even my COL. brother in the US MARINES… would speak up.. (yes.. something happend to him too.. Never got detials.. but he told me I was not alone) Oh boy..

    IT HAD TO BE ME!

    Part of the reasons many (not all) never believed me (or so they said) was because I came out with it at a late age… Had my sister never had a stroke and cried all this to me one night.. NONE OF US WOULD HAVE KNOWN about each others story…

    It had to be me TO TRY and get this garbage off the streets and in jail where he BELONGED/BELONGS – I was in my 30’s when I dropped the BOMB.

    He never went to Jail – but he was exposed – He also pissed down his leg – and he MAY think I was bluffing.. but I was not..he was a second away from the full force of a 44 mag. (He should believe in God too – and get on his kness for the REST of his DAYS) Something GRACE saved him.. I was very upset that day.

    IF there is a hell – He has the Preidential Suite!

    You hurt a kid like that – YOU GET LIFE!****** )

    OMG! THIS IS LONG (I’m VERY SORRY)

    So here is the BEEF of the story (much more went on – mind games, lies, stories – This MAD MAN PEDIFILE weaved one hell of a complicated WEB of layered lies – all to make us look bad if we ever did what I did.. EXPOSE HIM. It was his many year in the making PLAN B.

    These are the biggest PARTS of the story.

    _______________________ All is 100% true I wear to BOB and GOD!

    I had a 44 on a family member once – sister screaming.. (At me mind u.. I was the bad one)

    I should have fired. The trigger, had it had less tennsion – would have tripped.

    I did this when my MOTHER – invited him and my sister over – (after about 6 years.. figured she’d help ME (meeeee) get past all the PAIN and bring the monster near MY child. You see after all that happened – some goofy twist of fate has it that I’m the bad guy with the entire group.. (It’s the STORY – I never felt like the bad guy once – they all pegged ME rather than a pedifile)

    Family all left me behind – (Even the biggest victim – who was the FIRST to come out with the TRUTH.. after she woke in the hospital with a stroke.) sadly, the MONSTER got 4 of my mom and dads 6 kids. Only the TWO oldest survved.. (eh.. 1 – One married him and had two kids)
    (I know he beat his kids – not sure if any of them were victims – THEY SURE HATE ME – and I get it.. Pedifile KILLED my family and his as well)

    I was only able to really forgive one person and I’m working on the rest
    (My mother, I forgave the day she moved out.. I took care of her for years.. None of the rest of them did – THEY were busy raising familes )

    After the GUN thing..(protecting my family – I was THE NUT – lol)
    They put her in a high rise for elderly – and POOF mom was gone – They had it figured I’d shoot her??? WHAT????? (more mind games from the pedifile – he’s very good at what he does)

    I figure it was just too much on an overload for mom – (4/6) She/we were ALSO perfect victims – as my father was always in ICU as she worked 2 jobs.. (Heyyyy sicko! wanna watch the kids! Sure Marion – I’ll watch them….) Like I said – Perfect! (FUCK ALL PEDIFILES – FUCK THIS COCKSUCKER!)

    For mom it was better to pretend it never happened. (It had to be a night mare she must have thought) RIGHT?

    Better even to speak to your good son like a DEMON then to deal with the truth I guess.. (Hard all around FOR everyone involved – shit like this is nothing more than a BAD TRAIN WRECK with lives instead of box cars)
    (LIVES!)

    But still.. (Why do these freaks do this??)

    Why do people have to mess with children..

    I can’t get myself to believe this was MOM’S BIG PLAN for her family. She has not talked to me in oh 2 years.. (It’s ok.. My real mom died over a 10 year period – from the day my sister broke the silence)

    I confronted the skum bag many years ago.. Nose to nose (Not one family believe me either, rather – Many shared with me that they expected that I’d have done it in front of people.. What on PAY PER VIEW?
    I asked them??) Is this a GAME? Is this TV?

    People are so warped.

    I went to the cops alone one day..- sat with a detective – told the whole darn story.

    (You know what that detective told me?”Every family has a sicko” This slugo was a brother-in-law)

    Pedifile was the best thing since sliced bread too UNTIL that day.. fishing , camping, “BOYyyyy SCOUTSSSsss” OMG!!!!

    (I’ll assume it was the same M O for all of us)

    The next day in Gym class and all days after for me were never the same.. I thought every other adult male was looking to touch me… To open my pants.. (I was like 11 – 12) I’m so glad I ran out of the house.. I’m so glad the coward only TALKED of killing.. and then let me go. I never slept over after all this went down.. I turned the IRON MAIDEN up and ROCKED OUT!!! I got LOST on my mind… I changed OVERNIGHT.

    Did my oldest sister ever notice that I never came over anymore – except with FAMILY/GROUPS?

    The detective did give me something that day though – He left the room (Me freaking out of my mind – a sobbing adult/child) Then he walked
    back in and showed me the file on this this .

    The “file” on the ped was as thick as a fist. He said they had many complaints over the years – but no one to press charges.. Nothing to stick, plus his dad had money (Detective told me my case was way over the TIME limit) HE told me about a girl named AMY – Foster Kid. She was the only one CLOSE to having him in cuffs – but someone finally talked her out of it.. This bum took her in (oh what a great foster parent he must have been) **She happened before me.

    The poor girl was placed there in HIS HOME for CARE.. for “sexual problems” – I always remember them saying that.. She was there for a NEW START..

    Out of the POT and into the FIRE.. Poor Amy! I often think about her.. and hope she is OK. (I guess she was another perfect victim? What OFFICER..?”She was messed up when she got here. I never touched her.”
    THAT FFFUUUCCKKERRRRRR! He was hanible Lector good at getting out of it all.. of spinning his evil web.

    If I had a nickle for everytime I prayed to go back in time to have my oldest sister marry a “normal” nice guy. (what LIFE then for me? Us?
    maybe a Family? loving a brother? We will NEVER know – and I’m
    finally AT peace – I don’t want to know. I’m proud of who I am.

    I’m with my family now. They made their choice – I have the TRUTH..
    I MOVED ON.

    GO AHEAD! SOMEONE PLEASE TRY and TOUCH MY LITTLE GIRL or WIFE – and YOU’RE FUCKING D.O.A.!

    GONE!

    FUCK THIS BUM… and ALL like him.

    I’m ready to forgive everyone – except him (at this time) but no worries there.. He never copped up to me.. (hence the family problems)
    and THEY could give a shit. I have pictures of my mother with my baby girl – Grandmom left her too. They all did.

    (I’ll never understand it?? WTF?CHILDREN?)

    All he had to do was walk in the woods and kill himself and LIVES went on un-soiled..

    FUCK HIM.

    Forgive someone who made me lose my entire family, caused such greif for my young wife (she knew the story BEFORE we married) AND who made MY FAMILY “make me out to be the bad guy..” FUCK HIM! A man that does not care about his own family (He knows the shitty truth) Hell – he beat his kids ugly..(what was I gonna do @ 7,8 years old. Kick his ass?)

    Until he’s man enough to cop up to what he did to me and 2 others in my family. FUCK HIM (Male/male – even just touching.. IT’S A MIND THING – LOSING TRUST THING.. I won’t say it’s harder for boy vs. girls
    – but it’s kinda messed up for a young boy to go to school the next morning..

    Grades and I went to POT.

    (This is the funny part.. He sorta copped up to raping my sister for “3”
    years but said that “SHE made moves on him..” A 9-12 year old girl???
    I heard it out of my sisters mouth – Young Rose SEDUCED HIM! My eldest sister yelled, no screamed it!)

    Fuck him – He’s less than DOG shit to me.

    The only reason he’s still breathing today is because GOD (yes Kim) GOD turned my head to see my little GIRL and her mother Just in the knick of time. (One week later – Mom moved out – called me evil names – and I somehow became the CRAZY ONE)

    I never saw this one coming tonight Kim – Reading a poem , being on
    this blog.. (I’m not really into poems – I never got most of them)

    We have more it seems than just a POKER connection.. – Sadly – we and too many others have this sick connection.. (all of you WILL survive.. you HAVE too)

    I only share all this to get the message across that it happens to young boys too.. (And don’t read into it too deep – I was only touched and talked to and told that “IF I TOLD – My family would all be killed”) I was not “fucked” I would have been NO DOUBT – but up and out of the cellar & out the door I went – He cought up to me about a mile down the road – convinced me it would never happen again – and I stayed QUIET.

    FUCK EM.

    My 3rd oldest sister had to deal with him for 3 years! She was the biggest victim. I pray for her to have peace. Like me – I think thes burried herself into her children and HEY! She beat the stroke too!

    FFUUUUUUUCCCKKKK HHHHIIIMMMMMMM!

    Why do people have to mess with children..

    Why do people have to mess with children..

    I loved your SPIRIT Kim the first word I read… I love the SPIRTS of all on this web page. If I ever win big big in poker – I’m going to do something to MAKE these bums be more accountable.. I’ll do something for abused kids..

    Sure – I lost my first family – but I also TOOK A STAND. I told everyone in the city too (I kept no SECRETS) – He’s just another SKUM BAG ped that lives down the street. AND EVERYONE KNOWS!

    HE LIVES WITH HIS HEAD DOWN – IN A GLASS BUBBLE.

    I can look my kid in the eyes and say – Daddy made a stand. Daddy (as long as he’s around will keep you safe)

    Fuck em all – Every last one these bastard pedifiles..

    (I’ll end with this.. For me.. Speaking out was the right thing to do.. (I’m the kind that STICKS UP/SPEAKS UP for the underdog… I WAS the underdog..)

    For many – I’d figure it is not the move….. I lost it all first family wise..
    .. (but then – what did I ever really have) – Point is… It’s super painfull on so many levels – If you decide to go my route – DO IT FOR YOU AND ONLY BECAUSE SOME NAGGING THING IN YOUR GUT TELLS YOU IT’S THE ONLY MOVE.

    DO IT FOR THE FUTURE VICTIMS (If it won’t KILL YOU)

    Be prepared to see everyone turn their backs on you.

    It’s funny – I first lost trust with this sicko – then lost trust – from my
    blood family…. It’s a crazy life.

    Thank God for my wife! Thank God for my Kid. Thank God for BLOGS and girls like KIM! I pray for all of you ALWAYS!

    TOM

    P.S. Don’t even think of saying I’m crazy for pulling a 44 – I even called
    mom AS I was loading it – and TOLD him he had seconds to get off MY property.. A crazy man – would have never picked up the phone.. Only his mouth and my sisters mouth got me to point it at HIM even..
    (not my sister – nor my mom) “KEY WORDS – pointed at HIM”

    HIM.

    It felt GOOD TOO.. (What good was I to my wife and new daughter in jail) None. They took enough away from our childhoods.. GIVE THEM NO MORE.

    Let him and others like him ROT in their own minds..

    http://www.bing.com/search?q=pedifiles&src=IE-SearchBox&Form=IE8SRC

    • Hey Tom

      Thanks for dropping in. I was very saddened to read your story, though I was heartened that you had the strength to prosecute your abuser. In an ideal world I’d do the same, but I lack the strength – certainly, at the moment I do. I have a panic attack if I drop a pen never mind give evidence at a trial lol.

      Maybe one day. My main concern is the risk posed to my abuser’s great-grandchildren, but I’ve written here about why that’s less of a concern for me at the minute than it used to be.

      Nevertheless, in principle everything you’ve said is indisputably how it should be done. I absolutely applaud you for not only being able to do the right thing, but on dealing so well with such sickening adversity.

      Thanks for stopping by and for being so open and forthright in your story.

      All the best

      SI

  6. I know my comment comes somewhat late but with you linking this to the award post I just had to read it. My own experience of abuse was not like yours but the post you quoted from Twitter is something I can really relate to particularly with my own behaviour in my teens. Makes quite interesting reading even the bit about the childhood behaviour seems to fit with things I remember.

    • Thanks Alison. I’m sorry you had to go through any abuse yourself. It’s funny how – in my case anyway – you don’t really make much of certain behaviours until you see something like this, and realise it applies to you.

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