Sexual Abuse, Perpetrators, Symptoms, How to Protect Your Kids, and How to Overcome It
Sexual Abuse Definition
Sexual abuse is any sexual activity between two or more people in which at least one of the participants has not agreed to carry out such activity. The sexual act does not need to be consummated to be considered sexual abuse.
Most of the people who were sexually abused in their childhood are confused about whether they were really abused. They often think they were not sexually abused because there was no penetration, but this is not actually true. If a child is exposed in any way to a sexual activity, the child is being sexually abused.
Most times, this is true even when the victim is a teenager.
Forms of Child Sexual Abuse
Here are some common forms of child sexual abuse:
- Vaginal, oral or anal sex with a minor.
- Use of objects for vaginal or anal penetration.
- Fondling or any type of touch that makes the child feel uncomfortable.
- Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor.
- Masturbation in the presence of a minor or forcing the minor to masturbate.
- Exposure of the victim to pornographic or sexually suggestive materials of any kind, including photographs, videos, movies, filming of the aggressor, and even written or spoken narrations.
- Obscene phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction.
- Any other type of activity that is oriented to sexually satisfy the aggressor through the use (abuse) of the victim.
We should remember that sexual abuse may be perpetrated by people of the same sex as the victim.
Peer Abuse vs. Sexual Exploration
Children naturally engage in forms of sexual exploration with children of similar age, size, social status, or power. As long as the age difference between children is not very large, this is usually a normal part of the child's emotional and sexual development, and in most cases it doesn’t have negative consequences.
It’s important to be able to differentiate between normal sexual behavior and behavior that harms another child. Many times, behavior that may seem concerning is actually part of healthy sexual development.
It could be a concern if a child is engaging in sexual play with a much younger or more vulnerable child or is using tricks or bribery to coerce another child. Sexual abuse between children is often defined as when there is a significant age difference (usually 3 or more years) between the children, or if the children are very different developmentally or size-wise. Remember: sexual abuse does not have to involve penetration, force, pain, or even touching.
Who Are the Most Common Sex Offenders and How Can You Protect Your Child from Sexual Abuse?
Unlike what most people think, child sex offenders or predators are not creepy, horrible-looking people. On the contrary, most child molesters look and behave just like everybody. They can be family members, relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers or religious mentors.
Sex offenders have some characteristics that make them difficult to identify. They look trustworthy, and they create settings where they can get access to children, such as schools, clubs, sports activities, community places and events that involve children. They usually know how to manipulate and groom situations so that they can be close to their victims.
Here is the list of most common sex offenders:
- Stepfathers and mother's boyfriends have the first place in the list, according to the statistics. They are close to the victim and have the possibility of being alone with him or her. Also, they have the authority to manipulate and often dominate their victim. Many child sex offenders target single mothers and start a relationship or even get married in order to gain access to their victims.
- Close relatives such as grandfathers, uncles, cousins or stepbrothers are the second most common sex offenders. Just like stepfathers, they have easy access to the child and can manipulate him or her easily. They can perpetrate the abuse repeatedly for many years.
- The third place is for friends of the family who visit often, such as neighbors and houseguests. As in the two previous cases, sometimes these people have the opportunity to be alone with the victim, and they usually have a close relationship and some authority over the victim. Human beings have the tendency to trust what they see frequently, and family friends and neighbors are part of that group.
- Fourth place is for the legitimate older brothers of the victim. They have some authority, closeness and the opportunity to be alone with the victim.
- The following place on the list of offenders is for babysitters. Next are figures of social authority, such as teachers, tutors, religious ministers, and health professionals. Many times, the only thing these people need to abuse a child is just a few minutes alone with the victim. In my practice, I have found countless cases of girls and adolescents who were abused by these people.
- We should also keep in mind any family member with mental problems can be a risk for your child. I want to clarify that mental problems could be moderate, but even in these cases, the chances of this person becoming a sex offender are potentially higher than those of ordinary people.
I didn’t craft this list intending to blame a specific group of people. Every person is valuable and should be respected. However, when we are parents, we have to defend our kids—and knowledge can make the difference.
Remember that you are responsible for the mental and emotional health of your children; do not give priority to anyone over your children. Think twice before you leave them alone with anyone, including close family members. Be observant, and watch for any behavioral changes in your child. Talk to your child, ask them about their day. Be alerted if your child suddenly starts spending a lot of time with an adult. Defend them. They do not have the capacity to defend themselves, and if you don’t protect them, chances are that no one is going to do it.
People with a Higher Risk of Sexual Abuse
Females, including babies, little girls and young teenagers are more at risk of being victims of sexual abuse, but male babies and boys are also at risk. As a rule of thumb, the younger the children are, the greater the risk they incur. In other words, the more defenseless the person is, the greater the chances of someone abusing him or her
It is important to note that infants are not excluded from this group. On the contrary, they are even more vulnerable than children, and the consequences of sexual abuse in the first years of life are often disastrous.
It is common that parents are careful with girls, but not with boys. This is a mistake. While girls are more likely to be sexually abused, boys are also often subject to sexual abuse. You have to protect them both equally.
Adolescents can be also the primary target of many sex offenders. Nowadays, it is very common for a 11 or 12-year-old girl to have a woman’s body curves; on the other hand, she is still a child and she may not be able protect herself, and she can easily be the target of a sex offender.
At this point, it would be essential for parents to be a little more cautious and protective with their teenage daughters. Parents, especially mothers, should guide their young daughters on how to dress properly and prevent them from dressing provocatively, because we do not want them to be a target for sexual assault.
Common Symptoms of Sexual Abuse in a Child
Some behaviors reveal the fact that a child was or is a victim of sexual abuse. Although these signs are not definitive because they could have other causes, they mostly occur as the consequences of abusive events.
My intention with this non-exclusive list of symptoms is that you, as a parent, learn to recognize them and protect your children.
These are the most common symptoms of a child who was or is being sexually abused:
- The boy or girl says he or she was abused. Pay attention to your children's dialogue. They could be telling you directly or indirectly that they are being abused. Make sure you believe their words when they talk about it. The kid wouldn’t know how to talk about it unless something was actually happening.
- The child has begun to self-stimulate. Even though the child could have discovered sexual self-stimulation by herself or himself, it is most likely the result of someone stimulating him sexually. It is very common that sexual abuse arouses the kid, creating a premature need for sexual stimulation.
- The child is entering into a depressive mood. Depression is the most common result of sexual abuse and it frequently starts immediately after the kid is abused for the first time. This happens partially because they do not know how to handle it. It is too much for them. They feel ashamed of "what they did." Even though they are victims, they tend to feel guilty because they are not old or mature enough to understand it. Additionally, the abuser tends to manipulate and even threaten the victim, which causes confusion and depression. One of the most significant symptoms of sexual abuse is guilt and feeling guilty, which can easily cause depression.
- The kid is afraid to be alone. If a child who used to be independent is suddenly afraid to sleep alone or feels insecure, pay attention to it, because it is possible he or she is being sexually abused.
- A decrease in academic or sports performance, appetite, or sleep. All of these symptoms could be caused by many factors other than child sexual abuse, but if they do occur, they can be an indicator that something is wrong. Pay attention and talk to your kids. Don’t be afraid of asking questions.
- Sexually transmitted diseases. Here, there is no doubt; a child could not get a disease of this type unless someone has sexually abused him or her.
- Fear of undressing, even in front of his mother when they take a bath or change clothes.
- Traumas of any kind such as bruises, scrapes, wounds in any part of the body including the genitals, or blood on the child’s underwear or sheets.
- Urinating or defecating in bed, especially if they have already overcome those behaviors.
- Nightmares or fear of being alone at night.
- Sexual knowledge that is inappropriate for the child’s age or excessive interest in sexuality, especially if it develops prematurely and unexpectedly.
Pay attention and investigate if you notice one or more of these symptoms in your child. Talk to your children, ask questions and tell them you are not going to be angry, no matter what the response. Also, make sure you keep your promise. The child needs to know he can trust his parents.
How to Spot a Child Molester or Sex Offender
It is very difficult to detect a sexual offender; however, the followings are indicators that an adult could have a tendency to abuse a child sexually:
- He shows too much interest in the child's affairs, beyond the normal, to the point that his behavior may seem childish or disproportionate in some way.
- He has a tendency to touch, hug or kiss the child at times when it is not appropriate to do so.
- He approaches the child with the attitude of being friends instead of the normal attitude of an adult.
- He would rather spend a lot of time with children than be with adults.
- He talks to the child about adult things or about his personal problems.
- He gives gifts to the child at times when a gift is not expected.
- He invents excuses to be alone with the child.
- He sexualizes conversations with the child.
- He is too interested in the child's sexual development.
- He does not seem to have personal relationships appropriate for his age.
If you notice any of these signs in someone close to your children, take action and, if possible, move the child away from this person. Remember that your responsibility is to your child, not to your friend or family member.
Long-Term Effects of Child Sexual Abuse in Women
Sexual abuse is traumatic, and depending on the intensity of the abuse, it produces moderate to disastrous consequences in the life of the person.
These are some of the most common consequences of sexual abuse in women:
- Vaginismus: Pain, burning or numbness during penetration. In some cases, the woman may feel her vagina is closed and does not allow penetration. Vaginismus can occur every time (primary vaginismus) or only sometimes (secondary vaginismus). Generally, vaginismus is a consequence of one or several sexual abuse including painful vaginal penetration. For this reason, the unconscious mind registers vaginal penetration as a painful event.
- Anorgasmia: Inability or extreme difficulty to achieve orgasm. The anorgasmia can be permanent or intermittent; it may appear only in some cases, like in certain positions or when having sexual relations in a specific environment.
- Low or nonexistent sexual sensitivity. This is the case of the woman who feels very little or no pleasure at all during foreplay or intercourse.
- Low or nonexistent sexual desire. These women can live for years with no sexual contact, and they do not feel the lack of it.
- Fear related to sexuality, such as fear of penetration, oral sex, masturbation or any other.
- Unexplained obesity and weight problems even though she eats a healthy, moderate and balanced diet. We have to be aware that this could also be caused by thyroid and hormonal disorders.
- Frequent migraines. I have not been able to find the reason why this symptom is so common in abused women, but the level of incidence is too high to ignore. This doesn’t mean that every woman with migraines is a survivor of sexual abuse. If you suffer from migraines, one way to know whether they are caused by sexual abuse is to masturbate during a migraine crisis (although it is not easy at all). If the migraine decreases or disappears during or after the orgasm, then there is a high probability that your migraines are of sexual origin.
- Chronic depression: This symptom, in my opinion, is the result of finding out that she was attacked precisely by the person who should have protected her, creating a generalized feeling of not being safe.
- Panic attacks. Like migraines, this is a very common symptom in abused women.
- Lesbianism: Although many women are lesbians by birth, I have also found many times in my practice that both women and men may develop a homosexual personality as a consequence of repetitive sexual abuse.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it is very possible that you have been a victim of sexual abuse, even if you do not remember it. In fact, the greater the damage caused by the abuse, the lower the chances of remembering the events.
Pedophilia vs.Sexual Abuse
Pedophilia is a psychological condition that consists of sexual arousal caused by sexual activities or fantasies with children or adolescents up to fourteen years of age.
Sexual abuse is the act committed by a pedophile as a result of their mental and emotional condition.
In my practice I have found quite a relationship between pedophilia and sexual abuse received by the pedophile in his childhood, but this is not documented, and some people, including professionals, argue that these are just arguments to defend the criminals who commit child sexual abuse.
However, one thing is true: whatever its origin, sexual abuse is a crime and precautions should be taken by society and parents to prevent it from happening to our children.
How to Heal Sexual Abuse with Hypnosis and Regressions
In my years of practice as a clinical hypnotherapist specializing in regressions, I have been able to witness the value of both hypnosis and regressions in the healing of sexual abuse.
Before we talk about how to get a healing session, let’s first talk about how our unconscious mind works. To make it easy and clear, I am going to talk about some cases I have tried in my practice:
- A 28-year-old woman with primary vaginismus came to my office with the complaint of severe pain during penetration. Her only sexual experience was with her husband. Although she had been married for 11 years, she had experienced sex with her husband fewer than 10 times. She didn’t remember any sexual abuse, but when she was subjected to regressive hypnosis, we found out that she had a nanny who penetrated her with her fingers when she was only two years old. That caused a lot of pain in her vagina. The way the unconscious mind deals with these events is simple: "If it hurt for the first time, it will hurt again and I don’t want to do it anymore.” For the unconscious mind, this is a wise solution, and in fact, it produces the result that she pursues; no one is going to penetrate her, so “she will be protected for the rest of her life.”
- A 25-year-old woman came to my office because she had absolutely no sexual sensation in any part of her body. When she was subjected to regressive hypnosis, we found out that her uncle abused her sexually when she was six years old. During the abuse, she felt a lot of pleasure in her body including the genital area. This event was so traumatic that her unconscious mind wanted to prevent it from happening again and completely suspended the perception of pleasurable sensations.
- A 42-year-old woman came to my office looking for help to lose weight. When I did the evaluation session, I found out she had healthy eating habits, even though she was really overweight. When I subjected her to regressive hypnosis, we figured out that she was a very beautiful child. At around five years old, she was sexually abused by her grandfather, at the age of nine she was raped by a neighbor, at eleven she was again sexually abused by an uncle, and at 16 she was raped by her boyfriend. She also recalled that she was often the target for sexual comments from the men in the family. The defense mechanism of her unconscious mind was to eliminate beauty. By gaining disproportionate weight, her unconscious mind was protecting her from sexual abuse, making her less attractive so that “she was safe from abuse.”
These examples above give us an idea of why healing with regressive hypnosis produces such dramatic effects. Usually, these memories are hidden in their entirety or in part in the unconscious mind’s storehouse.
So how the healing happens?
By exposing the patient’s unconscious memories and behaviours to the analysis of the conscious mind, with the use of hypnotic regression, the symptoms disappear. It's usually that simple.
Once the symptoms disappear, we use hypnosis and Energy Healing to develop correct evaluations regarding sexuality, and in cases where there is no libido, we also use hypnosis as a tool to increase sexual desire to normal levels.
Each case is different and requires personalized treatment, but in essence, that is the way to achieve healing.
If you are interested in starting your healing process, then click on the following button and book an evaluation appointment: