Parents of abused kids usually cannot tell that the child was a victim, as children are less able to express sexual abuse if they go through it. Maybe as a result of parents being too busy to engage with their kids. It could also be because the kids don’t know the words to use to express molestation. Many times, they keep shut because they fear the consequences that accompany speaking up.
While one or two of the following behaviours can be explained away, if your child exhibits the majority of these behaviours, it’s safe to assume that something is wrong. Seek help from the appropriate authorities or a trusted professional.
1. They quit a beloved leisure activity or sport
If poor little Tommy previously loved playing football (soccer), and all of a sudden cries every time it’s time for practice, begging you not to take him, It is safe to assume something is wrong and talk to him.
2. Reluctance to go to certain places or see certain people
Your child may seem irrationally scared of going to a particular location, afraid or hesitant to be around specific people, or frightened of visiting someone’s house.
If your child displays a sudden fright of ‘Uncle Bob’ and is unwilling to go to his house, that is cause for concern.
3. Drastic Drop in their school grades
Does your previously top scoring child suddenly start scoring poorly in class or vice versa? Has he/she begun creating unusual or odd pictures? Does he/she write explicit or graphic poems? Don’t ignore these subtle themes.
4. Avoid being touched/hugged by you and act out
Does your child stiffen or freeze up when you touch them, do they pull away from your embrace? Do they break things, hit or sexually touch other children? You should be concerned.
5. Regressing to past behaviours
If you notice that your 11-year-old child has now gone back to behaviours that he/she already outgrew such as thumb sucking or bed-wetting all of a sudden, consider talking to them and seeking the help of a professional.
6. They become Hesitant to undress or have their bath
If your child is suddenly very hesitant to have their bath or take off their clothes, then chances are there is something wrong.
7. Self-Harm and Suicidal Behaviour
Self-harm such as cutting, suicidal and reckless behaviours are definitely ‘cries for help’. Something is troubling them.
8. Changes in their sleep and eating habits
Drastic changes in sleeping (difficulty sleeping, frequent nightmares or sleeping too much) and eating habits accompanied by rapid changes in weight (weight gain or loss), appearance or even the onset of eating disorders can be indicative of severe psychological trauma.
9. Displaying crude knowledge about sex that is beyond their age
If they suddenly become crude or talk knowledgeably and vulgarly about sex or drugs, or use new names you didn’t teach them to refer to their privates, this is a sign that maybe they are being robbed of their innocence.
10. Unexplained Anger, Fear, Rage or Mood Swings
If your child is displaying angry, violent, fearful, or negative outbursts that is unlike them. Maybe he/she frequently erupts, cursing angrily or violently, if they have mood swings that are uncharacteristic of them, then It is time to talk to them.
Should this happen, something is definitely weighing on your child’s mind.
11. Your Intuition Says Something’s Not Right
Trust your intuition dear parent. We cannot stress this enough, if you feel something or something about someone is not right, trust your intuition and take action.
Considering how busy our lives are, a lot of things can slip past our conscious knowledge, but they are picked up by our unconsciousness and interpreted as danger signals we can’t really place a finger on. Trust them.
Calmly question your child based on your intuition, open the channel of communication and do not take a simple “ I’m okay” or “nothing is wrong” for an answer, push! Real life victims of online grooming turned prostitution say that if someone had engaged them in conversation, then maybe it will not have gone on for as long as it did.
As a parent or caregiver, it is essential that we pay attention to these symptoms as they are very indicative of a troubled psyche.
Although the chances of a child falling victim to online predators have a lot to do with parenting styles, even with the best of parents grooming can go undetected for years. This is because groomers are controlling and highly deceptive. They turn children into liars and collaborators.
Predators make children secretive by threatening them. “I will release your nude images to your family and friends and on the internet, if you dont….”, “Don’t tell anyone or else I will kill your parents/friends…” or “No one will believe you…” etc.
Don’t blame yourself, but you can communicate with your teens and help them escape from the hands of these monsters. How to protect your child from being groomed online.