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"By the age of sixteen years old I had completely changed from the young girl I once was- vibrant, joyful, and loving. I was suicidal, depressed, anxious, withdrawn, and suffered from insomnia and night terrors. Yet no one could figure out what was wrong with me"
- Jenna Quinn

Children often disclose abuse through unusual behaviors or changes in behaviors, not words. Because many forms of abuse are not physically evident, adults should recognize certain behavioral cues as signs of potential abuse. 


There are different types of abuse, including emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect:

  • Withdrawn, fearful, or anxious, depressed
  • Behaviors are excessive:
    • Extremely demanding or aggressive
  • Low confidence/poor self-image
  • Lack of empathy
  • Demonstrates compulsions, obsessions, phobias, or hysterical outbursts
  • Self-destructive behavior



Signs of Emotional Abuse: 






  • Unexplained injuries, bruises, or cuts
    • Injuries often have patterns
  • Moves or flinches away from any touch
  • Seems afraid to go home
  • Changes in behavior such as aggression, anger, hostility, or hyperactivity
  • Frequent absence from school 



Signs of Physical Abuse: 









Signs of Sexual Abuse: 

  • Child has a sexually transmitted disease or is pregnant, usually under the age of 14
  • Avoids a specific person without a reason
  • Knowledge on sexual acts that are inappropriate for his/her age.
  • Vaginal or rectal bleeding, pain, itching, swollen genitals, vaginal discharge
  • Delinquent behavior
  • Sudden change in school performance or behavior
  • PTSD symptoms

  • Often child is late or missing school
  • Child's clothes are filthy and hygiene is almost always bad
  • Physical injuries or illnesses go untreated
  • Developmental delays
  • Constant hunger or nutrient deficiency
  • Lacks medical care such as immunizations, glasses, or dental work
  • Self-harm or self-destructive behavior
  • Depression




Signs of neglect:









If you suspect abuse, call centralized intake, 855-444-3911 , right away. It is not your responsibility to investigate abuse, interview the child or get all the facts. Just contact the authorities with your suspicion so that children and families get the support and care they need. If a child is in immediate danger, also call 911.