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Sexual Abuse: Signs and Symptoms

Topic Overview

Signs of sexual abuse may not be apparent without an examination of the genital area. These signs include:

Vaginal bleeding in a child before the beginning of menstruation is abnormal, as are other vaginal or genital symptoms such as sores, warts, pain, or unusual discharge. Abnormal vaginal bleeding may be caused by physical or sexual abuse that injures the abdominal or vaginal area. Vaginal bleeding that is caused by abuse often is the result of minor physical injuries that will get better on their own or with home treatment.

You may feel uneasy if your child's doctor brings up the issue of abuse. But doctors have a professional duty and legal obligation to evaluate the possibility of abuse. It is important to consider this, especially if there were no witnesses to the injury that caused the child's vaginal bleeding.

If you think your child has been sexually abused, call your child's doctor or contact the National Child Abuse Hotline and Referral Service at 1-800-422-4453.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised June 13, 2013

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