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Signs and symptoms

Neglect Indicators
  • Poor hygiene, including lice, scabies, severe or untreated diaper rash, bedsores, body odor
  • Squinting
  • Unsuitable clothing; missing key articles of clothing (underwear, socks, shoes); overdressed or underdressed for climate conditions
  • Untreated injury or illness
  • Lack of immunizations
  • Indicators of prolonged exposure to elements (excessive sunburn, insect bites, colds)
  • Height and weight significantly below age level

Physical Abuse Indicators
  • Recurrent injuries with unexplained, guarded, implausible, or inconsistent explanations
  • Oddly shaped or patterned bruises or lacerations (from an object)
  • Uncommon locations for injury (underarms, neck, back, genitals, stomach, thighs)
  • Lacerations
  • Burns (cigarette, immersion)
  • Welts
  • Broken bones and intracranial trauma
  • Hair loss
  • Wearing long sleeve clothing out of season
  • Hesitation on showing certain body parts (not dressing out for P.E.)
  • Acts out aggression on others
  • Fear, withdrawal, depression
  • Fantasies, art work, or threats related to violence
  • Regression
  • Nightmares, insomnia

Sexual Abuse Indicators
  • Compulsive masturbation, teaching others to masturbate
  • Excessive curiosity about sex or seductiveness
  • Sexual acting out with peers, others
  • Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia or stained, torn, bloody underclothing
  • Frequent, unexplained sore throats, yeast or urinary infections.
  • Bed-wetting, soiling, playing with feces
  • Complains of pain or itching in genitalia
  • Difficulty in sitting or walking
  • Excessive bathing
  • Withdrawn or aggressive
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy, especially in early adolescence
  • Sexual inference in school artwork
  • Substance abuse
  • Legal issues
  • Overly compulsive behavior
  • Fears and phobias
  • Running away
  • Sleep problems
  • Fire starting
  • Depression
  • Somatic symptoms (stomach aches, headaches, etc.)

Indicators of fetal abuse due to drug usage
  • Miscarriage
  • Low birth-weight
  • Premature birth
  • Developmental delays
  • Behavioral and learning problems
  • Drug dependency and subject to withdrawal (tremors, sleeplessness, muscle spasms, and difficulties feeding)
  • Susceptibility to HIV

Indicators of fetal abuse due to Fetal Alcohol Abuse

  • Mental retardation
  • Prenatal and postnatal growth deficiency
  • Facial malformations
  • Central nervous system dysfunction
  • Varying degrees of major organ dysfunctions
  • Developmental delays

Emotional Abuse Indicators
  • Hiding his or her eyes
  • Lowering his or her gaze
  • Biting lips or tongue
  • Forcing a smile
  • Fidgeting
  • Annoyance
  • Defensiveness
  • Exaggeration
  • Confusion or denial
  • Feeling of nakedness, defeat, alienation or lack of worth
  • Regression
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Angry acts
  • Withdrawal
  • Insecurity
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Depression
  • Suicide
  • Difficulty in relationships
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders/nightmares
  • Speech disorders
  • Developmental delays
  • Nervous disorders or somatic symptoms

Spiritual Abuse Indicators
  • Child believes he or she is evil or causes others to be evil
  • Mistrust of others outside the group
  • Strong fear of God
  • Overly obedient or perfectionistic
  • Strong feelings of shame or guilt
  • Programmed statements or behaviors
  • Sleep problems or nightmares
  • Mind control or thought reform.
  • The misuse of a position of power, leadership, or influence to further the interests of someone other than the individual who needs help.
  • Psychological, sexual, and/or physical abuse by members of a specific religion or cult.
  • Withholding medical care in lieu of prayer.
  • Using religious texts for justifications for abuse.
  • Psychological, sexual, and/or physical assault committed by one or more people whose primary motive is to fulfill a prescribed ritual or satisfy the perceived needs of a deity or other being. This may include exorcisms or sacrifices.
  • Satanic or Sadistic Ritual Abuse (SDA) is an organized, secret, often multi-generational group who engage in mutilation, ritual killing, cannibalism, drinking of blood, systematic torture to produce robot-like, programmed, children, etc.

Common Characteristics of Abusive Groups
  • Authoritarian Disciplinary Style - The group claims to have been established by God and leaders in this system claim the right to command their followers. Followers may be told that God will bless their submission even if the leadership is wrong.
  • Image Conscious - History, character flaws, etc are misrepresented or denied to validate the revered image of the group. Irrationally high standards are placed upon followers and their failure to live up to these standards is a constant reminder of the follower's inferiority to his or her leaders.
  • Suppresses Criticism - Questions or open discussions about issues are not allowed. The group or religion is promoted as favored by God and a person who questions becomes the problem rather than the issue he or she raised. Questioning anything is considered a challenge to authority and doubting God.
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