Vaginal symptoms, such as abnormal vaginal discharge, sores, warts,
pain, or abnormal vaginal bleeding, may be symptoms of sexual abuse. Signs of
sexual abuse may not be visible without an examination of the genital
Vaginal bleeding in a child before the beginning of menstruation is
abnormal, as are other vaginal or genital symptoms such as sores, warts, pain,
or unusual discharge. Abnormal vaginal bleeding may be caused by physical or
sexual abuse that injures the lower belly or vaginal area. Vaginal bleeding
that is caused by abuse often is the result of minor physical injuries that
will get better on their own or with home treatment.
You may feel uneasy if your health professional brings up the issue
of abuse. Health professionals have a professional duty and legal obligation to
evaluate the possibility of abuse. It is important to consider this
possibility, especially if there were no witnesses to an injury.
If you suspect abuse, seek help. You can call the local child or
adult protective agency, police, or clergy or a health professional such as a
doctor, nurse, or counselor. You can also contact the National Child Abuse Hotline and
Referral Service at 1-800-422-4453. Adults need to protect young children,
because they cannot protect themselves.
June 13, 2013
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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