Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

Most victims of sexual abuse are assaulted by someone they know rather than by a stranger. It may be a family member, co-worker, date, boyfriend, friend or another individual within close proximity to the victim. We also know that most sexual assaults (about 9 out of 10) are not reported to the police. Reasons include feeling ashamed or embarrassed, being afraid to tell the police and/or that the report won't be believed, feeling that the incident was not important, feeling it was a private matter and dealing with it in another way.

Someone who has been sexually assaulted may react in a wide variety of ways, depending on her/his age, personality, the form of sexual assault committed, the relationship to the perpetrator, degree of violence and whether the assault was a one-time incident or had happened in the past.

In the days immediately following an assault, a victim will typically show signs of shock, including:

  • anger and/or aggression toward people around her/him
  • intense fear or anxiety
  • sadness and depression
  • frequent mood swings
  • problems sleeping or eating
  • confusion
  • withdrawn

In the longer term, a person who has been sexually abused may continue to experience these feelings in addition to other serious impacts.

If a victim does not choose to report a sexual assault to the police, other support services are available.

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