Girls who disclose sexual abuse: Urogenital symptoms and signs after genital contact

Cynthia Delago, Esther Deblinger, Christine Schroeder, Martin A. Finkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Little information is available about idiosyncratic historical details provided by sexually abused girls, yet this information can help medical professionals diagnose sexual abuse. OBJECTIVES. Our goals were to describe types and frequencies of urogenital symptoms/signs reported by girls who disclosed direct genital contact and to explore factors associated with this reporting. METHODS. We reviewed 161 medical charts of 3- to 18-year-old girls who disclosed sexual abuse by direct genital contact for urogenital symptoms/signs, type of genital contact (oral, object, digital, or genital), time interval between last perpetrator contact and physical examination, age and sexual maturity at the time of last perpetrator contact, genital findings, and other medical diagnoses. Regression analyses were performed to determine factors that were most predictive of symptom/sign reporting. RESULTS.Many of the girls reported multiple types of genital contact;33% reported oral/object-genital contact, 72% reported digital-genital contact, and 55% reported genital-genital contact. Sixty percent of the girls reported experiencing ≥ 1 symptom/sign; 53% of the total sample had genital pain, 37% had dysuria, and 11% had genital bleeding. Symptoms/signs were highly associated with genital-genital contact: 48% of the girls reporting genital-genital contact had dysuria compared with 25% of girls not reporting genital-genital contact, 72% had genital pain/soreness compared with 32% not reporting genital-genital contact, and 16% had bleeding compared with 4% of those not reporting genital-genital contact. Using regression analysis, the strongest factor predictive of symptom reporting by the girls was genital-genital contact. CONCLUSIONS. Sexually abused girls who experienced direct genital contact frequently reported symptoms related to the abusive episode. These symptoms were reported most frequently with genital-to-genital contact. This information sheds some light on the mechanism of injury leading to symptom reporting and can be used to further study symptoms/signs reported by sexually abused girls compared with the general population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e281-e286
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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