This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Amoli Trust. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

What To Do If A Child Reveals Sexual Abuse To You

More from Amoli Trust

Is your child acting differently? What is it that he is not telling you? Has his behavior changed lately? Or, maybe he tried telling you something and you simply ignored it. These signs, no matter how trivial, might lead to something grievous.

Child sexual abuse is a much common occurrence that torments 109 children every day in India. The sinful crime is not limited to any one country. It is a plague that has engulfed the entire world. Child sexual abuse can be defined as sexual contact with a child that occurs under one of three conditions:

  1. When a large age or maturation difference exists between the partners
  2. When the partner is in a position of authority or in a caretaking relationship with the child
  3. When the act is carried out against the child by using violence or trickery

According to the WHO, “Child sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society.”


The act of child sexual abuse or CSA, as it is commonly called, can be perpetrated by any type of offender, irrespective of gender, caste, creed, age difference, or religion. The culprit may be an intra-familial or a non-family taker, friend, or a foe. It can be someone who has been victimised in the past. Children are also abused sexually in marketplace and used for child pornography. This misdeed is a widespread public health problem that holds potential to severely undermine a healthy psychological and physical development of children and adolescents.

Types Of Child Sexual Abuse

According to NSPCC-UK (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children- United Kingdom), abuse can either be contact or non-contact. As the names suggest, contact abuse is where an abuser makes physical contact with the child, while non-contact refers to exploiting the child without touching. This may include exposing the child to sexual acts or materials, or directing, distributing or viewing child abuse images and videos. The list of ways in which a child can be abused goes to the end of the rainbow. From forcing a child, to masturbating or compelling them to take part in sexual conversations online, all these acts come under child sexual abuse.

As a guardian, we wish to protect our child from this social evil as much as possible. We fear it so much, that we are afraid of even talking about it with our children. However, we forget that children show evidence of abuse through their actions or words. How can we identify these signals?

Cues Of Child Sexual Abuse

Knowing the signs of abuse and defeating them in the early phase itself can help safeguard the innocence of children. A child can only dare when they’re aware. If they lack the awareness of CSA, they might not realise the seriousness of this subject, and often regard mistreatment or abuse as normal or customary. After the passing of the grooming phase, the child might become habitual of abuse and become subject to Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome.

The signs are:

  1. Avoiding isolation or not being at peace with themselves. This can be observed when they distance themselves from a particular person or a family member. The children may not want to visit a particular relative or not board the school bus. You need to observe what has brought about this change in your child.
  2. Language or sexual behavior you wouldn’t expect your child to know.
  3. Changes in eating habits. A child reacts distinctly to any change. Their expressions say it all. If your child is developing changing habits that do not seem normal to you, it’s time for you to talk to him.
  4. The child may show drastic alterations in mood and studies. Plunging grades and tumbling concentration levels are what you need to look out for.

What Should Be Done If A Child Reveals Abuse?

When in discomfort, children turn to their parents for comfort. It then becomes the responsibility of the person to whom abuse has been reported to not shun the child, but take the following steps to console them:

  1. Listen carefully to what the child has to say. Minute details may help you understand the emotions of the child better. Moreover, if the abuser was a stranger to the child, these details might help you recognize him.
  2. Praise them for telling you the entire story and not shying away. Do not show expressions of horror or disgust. This might frighten the child further.
  3. Tell them that it is not their fault in order to ascertain that they don’t dwell into the quagmire of self-shame, self-blame, and self-harm.
  4. You need to assure the child that you believe what they are telling you. This would encourage them to give you more details or information about the incident.
  5. In case the abuser is known, do not confront them in front of the child. This may scare the child and force them to change their statement.
  6. Tell them your course of plan to take down the abuser.
  7. Report the incident to higher authorities so that appropriate action can be taken against the abuser.

Effects Of Child Sexual Abuse

No scar is bigger than the scar on your soul. Let these gifts of god know that someone is listening to them, because the effect of abuse is a lot for a child to bear. The effect can be psychological, physical, and social. Abuse not only affects a child’s present, but also demolishes their future, if not taken care of in the right manner. The impact of sexual abuse can last a lifetime. The victims may endure from:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic Stress
  • Difficulty coping with stress
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

Children of all age groups or gender are at risk of getting sexually abused. Even disability does not prevent the unscrupulous victimiser to carry out this heinous crime. Children are unaware that what is happening to them is a crime, which makes us responsible as a youth to educate them.

It’s children who make our life cheerful. We always smile when we see a child smile at us. So, why should we let that smile go away? Let’s bring that smile back and make sure that it never fades away. Even a small part we play will lead to a bigger goal of a society free of child sexual abuse.

If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.

You must be to comment.

More from Amoli Trust

Similar Posts

By Imran Khan

By Prerana

By PRIA (Participatory Research in Asia) India

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below