Sexual Abuse: Physical Signs in Children
British Columbia Specific Information
Physical, verbal, or sexual abuse at any time, at any age, or in any relationship is not ok.
Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number if you or someone you know is in immediate danger from assault or abuse. To speak to someone confidentially and to get more information, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or contact one of the services below.
Helpline for Children
If a child anywhere in B.C. needs help, call the Helpline at 310-1234 any time of the day or night to speak to a social worker, no area code is needed. If you are deaf or hearing impaired, call 1-866-660-0505 for TTY services. This is a toll-free service, and there is no charge to call the operator if you need to call from a pay phone. This helpline is available for children, parents, and other community members to report abuse. For more information, visit Helpline for Children.
Kids Help Phone
Children and teens can call the Kids Help Phone to speak to a counsellor day or night at 1-800-668-6868. Counsellors are available to speak to anonymously about concerns with abuse and can help children and teens call the police or child protective services. For more information about the resources and support available visit Kids Help Phone.
If you or someone you know are a victim of crime and need more information or support, call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808 for toll-free, confidential, multilingual service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, visit VictimLink BC.
Seniors Abuse & Information Line
If you are an older adult who has been abused or mistreated call the Seniors Abuse & Information Line (SAIL) at 604-437-1940 or toll free at 1-866-437-1940, 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., to get a referral to their legal advocate and other programs. For more information about their programs and resources visit BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support.
Signs of the sexual abuse of a child are not likely to be noticed without an examination of the genital area. These signs include:
- Bruises, scars, chafing, or bite marks in the genital area.
- Discharge from the vagina or penis.
- Rectal or genital bleeding.
- Anal tears or dilation.
- Symptoms of a developing sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, genital herpes, hepatitis B, trichomoniasis, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Sexual abuse may not be detected with a physical examination, especially if enough time has lapsed to allow tissue to heal. Also, some types of sexual abuse, such as fondling or oral contact, usually do not leave any physical signs.
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Current as ofNovember 14, 2014
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