Disclosure of CSA

3 Simple Steps

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Follow this 3-step process when a child confides about abuse:


Emotions to watch out for


How one should respond to the child


Actions to be taken ASAP

Common adult reactions to avoid when a child discloses ABUSE

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If a child tells you she/he was abused.
Please don’t react with:

  • Shock

    ‘How could you?’

  • Self-blame

    – ‘I should have been more careful’

  • Doubt

    – ‘Is it true…Can’t be’

  • Disbelief

    – What nonsense!’

  • Anger

    – ‘I told you not to…’

  • Denial

    – ‘Don’t make up stories.’

  • Confusion

    – ‘What? I don’t understand…’

Why children don’t report sexual abuse?

Most of the time it is out of fear and confusion that children don’t report the abuse.  Few typical reasons are shared below:

  • Fear of remembering
  • Fear of losing love, acceptance, status
  • Fear of shame and guilt
  • Fear of not being believed
  • Fear of being blamed or judged
  • Fear of further harm to self or parent
  • Lack of vocabulary of their private parts and the resulting inability to describe acts of sexual abuse.
  • Not recognizing they have been abused – especially young children and the disabled.
  • Kids may be confused and somehow maybe blame themselves for the abuse
  • Sometimes they may believe it is their fault.

Typical thoughts that can run through a child’s head

  • I don’t even know how to say what happened. I just feel weird.
  • It didn’t hurt. I was just uncomfortable.
  • They said it was just a game.
  • I liked it.

Why do they tell us?

  • Inability to bear abuse anymore or physical illnesses following sexual abuse.
  • Increased awareness & understanding of the abuse.
  • Secure adult relationships
  • Discussion with an understanding parent or other adult.
  • Fear of closed ones getting abused.
  • Revelation during therapy for any other reason.

How to recognize children's disclosure?

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Indirect hints. When a child says ‘I don’t want to go to uncle’s house anymore’ or ‘please don’t leave me alone with her’. They are likely to give a little information at a time, maybe over several hours, weeks, months, or even years as the children test reactions to their words. They seem hesitant, confused, or uncertain while disclosing and later, may even deny the abuse ever happened. This does not mean that the abuse did not occur.

Physical Indicators of Child Abuse

  • Evidence of physical trauma, to the oral, genital or anal areas, such as bleeding, discharge, soreness and/or itching
  • Bruising and other injury to breasts, buttocks and thighs and other parts of the body
  • Anxiety related illnesses, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Sexually transmitted disease in a child of any age
  • Discomfort in urinating or defecating
  • Recurrent urinary infections
  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Unexplained pregnancy

Behavioral Indicators

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Learning problems, absences from school, inexplicable fall in academic grades, poor memory and lack of concentration.

Regression to younger behaviors, such as thumb sucking, acting like a baby, bedwetting or speech difficulties.

Change in eating habits: Child starts losing weight or may eat excessively, thus putting on weight.

Developing fears, phobias and anxieties in relation to a specific place or adult related to abuse.

Replaying the abuse with another child, generally younger or same age as them. This is known as sexualized behavior.

Sexually abusive behavior towards other children particularly younger or more vulnerable than themselves.

Wearing provocative clothing, or layers of clothes to hide injuries and/or to appear unattractive.

Sexual inference in children’s recreational activities such as drawing, playing, singing, etc.

A change in the social behavior of the child – a happy child becomes dull or silent.

Complaining of headaches, stomach pains or nausea without a physiological basis.

Reluctance to participate in a group physical or recreational activity.

The child may become insecure and cling to a safe adult.

Social withdrawal (such as poor or deteriorating relationships with adults and peers)

Self-injurious behavior, body-mutilation, getting into trouble with law, suicide attempts.

Sexual knowledge, behavior, or use of language not age appropriate.

Tendency to cling or need for constant reassurance.

Poor self-care/personal hygiene/excessive bathing.

Drug and alcohol use, abuse and addiction.

Sudden accumulation of money or gifts.

Fatigue and sleeping difficulties.

Obsession with sex or complete aversion to it.

Child running away from home/school.

Questioning their sexuality and gender.

Perfectionism and workaholism.

Sleeping & Eating disorders.

Sexual offending.

Mental illness.


Satefy Club organizes numerous workshops in the area of Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.

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Other Factors

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Multiple forms of maltreatment or neglect may accompany child sexual abuse.

Physical abuse


Domestic Violence

Emotional Abuse

Absence of one parent

Effects of child abuse

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Distrust of others and themselves

Terror and anxiety


Shame, guilt and self – hatred

Alienation from their bodies

Powerlessness, Depression, Extreme Passivity


Relationship problems / Marital Problems