Psychosomatic Symptoms in Child Sex Abuse Victims

What Parents of Child Sexual Abuse Victims Should Understand About Psychosomatic Symptoms

Every child who goes through the trauma of sexual abuse will react differently, and it’s fairly common for children to show mostly physical symptoms after an emotional trauma. Children who have trouble processing a traumatic event often complain of stomachaches, headaches, dizziness, and other physical symptoms instead of more emotional complaints like depression or anxiety—even when those physical symptoms don’t seem to be related to a specific illness or injury.

Although a child of any age may exhibit these kinds of linked physical-emotional symptoms, it may be an even more common sign of trauma in children who are not yet verbal or aren’t sure how to talk about what has happened to them. If you are the parent of a child who may have been sexually abused, here are two things you should try to understand about “psychosomatic symptoms” and physical complaints:

  • Psychosomatic symptoms aren’t “all in your child’s head.” Although psychosomatic symptoms are related to a mental or emotional trauma, they symptoms and experience of the symptoms can be very real for your child.
  • Don’t ignore complaints of physical symptoms, even if your child doesn’t show signs of illness. Keep in mind that your child is probably not intentionally “faking” these symptoms or complaining about nothing. There may actually be an underlying physical cause, and consistent psychosomatic symptoms deserve a thorough examination by a qualified doctor or therapist.

If you’re unsure about physical or emotional signs that your child is in distress, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctors or care providers about the symptoms and behaviors you’ve noticed and what you can do to get the help you need while your child recovers.

For more information about how your family can recover—physically, financially, legally, and emotionally—from child sexual abuse, contact our Chicago legal office directly at 312-332-1400 or toll-free at 312-332-1400.

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