Compared to the more objective tells when it comes to physical abuse, sexual abuse is much more nuanced and harder to distinguish, especially in the case of children who simply do not know any better.
Part of the problem is the difficulty in distinguishing between your typical love and affection and something that borders on and even crosses into something purely sexual.
And when such sexual acts are not consensual between both parties, it is sexual abuse.
The first example of such behavior is molestation.
When most people think of molestation, what usually comes to mind is an adult touching a child inappropriately in their genitals or other private areas.
This is most definitely molestation in its purest form – but when looking out for signs of sexual abuse, there are plenty of other behavioral traits that would indicate that someone is molesting a child behind closed doors.
For example, someone who is molesting a child will often convey a very intimate form of physical touching – one that is typically only reserved for more mature (not to mention consensual) relationships.
They may constantly be having the child sit on his or her lap, and holding them close to them wherever they go.
Or they may even have them cradled in their arms, which despite not being sexual outright, is often a sign that when they are actually alone they go further than that seemingly innocent cradling.
Touching under clothing, even in seemingly innocent ways such as touching the lower back underneath a child’s shirt is also a red flag to look out for.
In essence, anything that doesn’t seem one-hundred percent innocent on the surface should definitely be something to look into.
Or at the very least something that shouldn’t be brushed off as nothing.
While molestation is bad, the unfortunate truth is that such behavior leads to more sexually charged behavior, and even full-on rape in some cases.
These can include when children are forced to touch an adult’s genitalia, or if the adult engages in vaginal intercourse.
That is rape and that is one of the worst things you can do on the planet.
Even worse than murder in many people’s opinions.
But how can you tell when a child has been subject to such extreme cases of sexual abuse without seeing it for yourself?
Unfortunately, that is not the easiest thing in the world to do.
If the child is good at keeping their feelings hidden, it will be very difficult.
Sometimes there are signs that the child expresses discomfort just by being around an adult who is causing them harm.
Or they instinctively run towards someone they trust as soon as they walk into the door, rather than staying by the adult engaging in sexual abuse.
If those small signals aren’t readily available, the best you may have is to simply listen to the child for any potential clues that there is wrongdoing happening to them.
They may ask about such sexual behavior and if it is “normal” or things of that nature.
If these things come up, make sure you pay attention and firmly yet gently press for why the child is asking such questions.
That may be the only way for the true nature of a predator’s full sexual abuse to be uncovered.