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One third of us will experience sexual abuse at some point in our lives. This episode of Sexplanations aims to increase awareness about the warning signs of sexual abuse in victims and perpetrators so you can look out for them in yourself and others.

To stay curious, there’s more to learn from the following resources:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj-jMnq3JNQ
https://www.nsopw.gov/en-US/Education/FactsStatistics
http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/resources/publications/en/guidelines_chap7.pdf
http://www.stopitnow.org/
https://www.nsopw.gov/en/education/HelpSupport
https://www.rainn.org/
https://www.youtube.com/user/uplifttogether

I’m also making a special request that this video, more so than others, is shared whenever and wherever possible. If we recognize the signs and report them right away, we can prevent years of additional abuse. I work with children who’ve been abused in many ways and it’s become more than my heart can carry. Since I’m solution-based I created this video for them and the other victims out there but that’s not enough. People need to see it and hear it. I want for us to do a better job protecting each other, even when we’re not able to ask for the help.
Dr. Lindsey Doe: Hi, my name is Dr. Lindsey Doe, and this is a sex education resource called Sexplanations. 

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before age 18 and the ratio increases to 1 in 5 men and 1 in 2 women with adulthood. 

For other genders like trans, non-conforming, and genderqueer the rates are as high as 2 in 3 who experience sexual abuse at some point in their lives.

Here's what these statistics look like in a group of 100 people. Over a third of us. Now I want you to know that victims don't often disclose that they've been sexually abused right away, or ever. They might not have the language to explain. Or they have reluctance for all kinds of other reasons, some of the biggies being: fear the perpetrator might retaliate; fear of disrupting relationships, and fear no one will believe them. So it's absolutely imperative that we pay better attention to what isn't being said - the changes in behaviors and physical complaints that signal "I am being sexually abused."

If you want, you can pause the video and grab scratch paper to record the symptoms you recognize. I'm listing the most common symptoms in children, adolescents, and adults, plus a rundown of signs someone is a sexual perpetrator.

If you haven't spent a lot of time around kids, it can be hard to tell what's normal and what's not, like what's a typical temper tantrum versus something that's indicative of abuse? Sometimes the answer is the severity of the behavior, other times it's the frequency.

StopItNow.org has a great online Help Center to sort through your questions. A lot of the signs of sexual abuse I'm sharing with you are adapted from their website.

A child who has been sexually abused may experience frequent nightmares and trouble sleeping; a sudden change in eating habits (such as refusing to eat); loss or increase in appetite and difficulty swallowing. Mood swings, rages, insecurity, clinginess, withdrawal, excessive crying, fear of new or unusual people and places are also signs of sexual abuse. Same with the kiddo trying to be sexual with toys, pets, or other children, provoking conversations about sex, drawing things that are sexual, telling sexual stories, and using new words for their genitals that you're not sure how they learned.

Fecal and urinary incontinence are also signs of sexual abuse. (That's when they can't control it). There's also resistance to getting undressed, saying "my body's dirty, bad or ugly", and difficulty walking or sitting. A child who has been or is being sexually abused may not want to go home, may be overly compliant, watchful - like something bad is going to happen, and distressed by flashbacks. You may notice sudden unexplained gifts and money, mentions of secrets, and older or "special" friend, and signs of other abuse like physical or verbal which often coincide with sexual abuse.

There may also be more obvious warning signs like injuries to their bodies - specifically their genitals and/or anus, urinary tract infections, STIs, pain and bleeding going to the bathroom, and blood, semen or discharge on them.

The biggest sign to watch for is Clues. Intentional red flags that kiddos put up to test whether or not it's safe to share more about the violence. When this happens - listen. Repeat what they say back to them, and then (in private) call the local Child Protection Services Hotline and/or police. All you have to do is report. They will determine what to do about it.

The behaviors more typically found in adolescents who have been sexually abused may include some or all of these: Self-injury; inadequate personal hygiene; drug and alcohol abuse; sexual promiscuity; running away from home; trouble concentrating in school, or truancy (skipping it all together); depression; anxiety; suicide attempts; fear of intimacy or closeness; compulsive eating or dieting; aggression; masturbating excessively or in public; sexual interest towards children; low gastrointestinal functioning; pregnancy; plus everything I already listed that younger children might exhibit.

Children and adolescents who have been sexually abused are 2 to 13.7 times more likely to be victimized as adults than their peers and many of these warning signs carry over into adulthood. Other indicators that an adult has been or is being sexually abused are: sexual difficulties; loss of interest in sex; or compulsive sexual behaviors; turmoil in close relationships; depressions; anger; fear (especially when triggered by reminders of the abuse); uncertainty about one's safety; neglect of house, job, children and bank accounts; trouble concentrating; struggling at school or work; feelings of guilt and shame; a negative self-image; sense of dirtiness (both inside and out); prevalent distrust of others, and emotional numbness. 

This is a lot to think about, and these are only some of the most notable ways that people express abuse symptoms. Everybody is unique so there may be other signals I haven't listed or in the case of 40% of victims, there may be no signs at all. If you're unsure what you're witnessing, I will again and again recommend calling a hotline or the police for feedback.

An additional strategy is to look out for suspicious behaviors and potential perpetrators. Is there someone who generally makes others feel uncomfortable, refuses to let people set their own limits physically and socially, insist on touching people even when it's expressed as unwanted, walks in on people in bathrooms or their bedrooms, doesn't have successful relationships with peers, is needy, possessive, abusive in other ways, controlling and is a victim of child abuse themselves.

Is there someone who, specifically with children, refers to sexual images and stories around them, exposes them to adult sexual interactions without concern, has secret or planned meetups with teens or little ones, exchanges unusually frequent calls, texts, and emails with kids, is overly interested in the sexuality of a child or teen, interferes with the child's dating life, or talks about their appearance, gives children unexplained gifts or money, allows them to be sexually inappropriate with each other, and finally is too good to be true.

Trust that gut of yours. Don't wait for proof. Create a safety plan. Call it in. And Stay Curious!

Today specifically I also want to say please share this video with everyone. The sooner you recognize and report signs of sexual abuse, the sooner we can stop it. Many people are sexually abused for years of their lives and with your help those years can instead be spent healing. With all of my heart I'm asking you please post this video on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and wherever else you can think of.

Thank you.