Victims of sexual assault may present in lots of different ways, no one victim is expected to
present in the same way. We all deal with trauma differently however there can be common
behaviours and reactions. If you suspect a friend or a family member has been affected by sexual
abuse please keep reading to find out more about possible signs to look out for. Men, women and
children and young people can all suffer trauma but it can be displayed in lots of different ways. It is
important to note that, this is not a definitive list of signs to look out for, as every person is very
If you are concerned that a child has been a victim of sexual abuse, you may notice a child
trying to avoid a certain person and you may notice attempts to avoid being alone with a particular
person and they may be displaying behaviours that are not normal for that child or young person,
the kind of language used may be different or not appropriate especially if it is sexualised language.
In terms of age appropriate behaviours, you may find they have lost interest in things they would
normally be engaged in.
You could find that promiscuity and becoming sexually active at a young age. It is important
to identify behaviours such as being withdrawn, anxious, issues sleeping, eating habits may have
changed or they may have began to self harm and have thoughts of suicide. This is not an exhaustive
list however they are more indicators that something isn’t right. It is important to take the
appropriate steps to safeguard children and young people but it is important to remember
attempting to force a young person to speak about abuse they have suffered or maybe suffering
could put them at further risk especially if they are scared about the consequences. It is important to
remind a young person that there is help, the right people are there to listen and support and that
they will be believed and it is not their fault.
University students have easy access to support services through their student welfare
departments, if someone is concerned about their friends or someone at University, in Leicestershire
there are strong links between student services and support services to ensure there is a seamless
service. It won’t always be easy to spot the signs but if you are worried, talk to the person you are
worried about, it can just take one person to help a survivor come forward.
Sexual abuse can be a taboo in some communities but it is important we talk about it and
understand that every survivors experience will be very different. Sexual assault may not be isolated
to strangers, which sometimes be a misconception. Rape, Sexual abuse can also occur within a
marital setting and can also become part of domestic abuse suffered by anybody. If something
doesn’t feel right, say no. Consent is everything.