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Child Sex Abuse – Helping a Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused



WHAT TO DO AFTER A CHILD TELLS YOU THEY’VE BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED


If your child tells you they’ve been sexually abused, or if you have good reason to believe or discover your child has been sexually abused, you must convey messages of love and support to your child. You can do this by emphasizing your love for them and letting them know what happened was not their fault. Then, take action to show them you will do everything you can to keep them safe.



1. Acknowledge there’s no “right” reaction. No parent should have to feel the pain of discovering this sort of trauma. Still, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re allowed to feel a wide range of emotions when discovering the abuse. Common reactions include anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, and shock. No “right” reaction exists, and you should expect to feel many emotions at once. Acknowledge those emotions so you can focus on managing them appropriately and quickly move on to helping and supporting your child.




2. Manage your own emotions to better help your child. If you’re having difficulty managing your feelings, it might help to speak to a counselor or therapist to help you process your emotions. Your child is looking to you for support, protection, and guidance, so you must get a handle on your emotions by seeking help when needed. Also, consider developing a support system with people you trust or join a support group to empathize with others while seeking your own healing.



3. Be a safe place for your child. Again, your child is looking to you to support and protect them. Offer continual reassurance of your love for them and often reiterate that the abuse is not their fault. Consistently show them that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe. Letting your child know that they’ll be okay is a crucial step to their recovery.




4. Believe them. After your child tells you what happened, thank them for telling you and immediately assure them they’re loved. Even if what they’re saying is difficult to hear or believe, remind yourself that false disclosures are rare. Stay calm, believe what your child is telling you, and avoid questions that ask them to provide specific answers. Try not to show reactions to what they’re saying. Children will often recant what they’re saying if they believe it’s upsetting an adult or the adult disapproves.



5. Protect them. Tell your child they’re safe, and you’ll protect them from future harm. It’s crucial to restore safety in your child’s life following child sex abuse, which can cause a child to lose faith in their caregivers’ ability to protect them. Create a plan with other adults caring for your child to eliminate unsupervised contact with the abuser or other potential abusers.



6. Emphasize that it’s not the child’s fault. Your child needs to understand that what the abuser did was wrong, and their harmful behavior must stop. Reassure your child they’re not to blame in any way – not for causing it, not for not stopping it, and not for not telling you about it until now. Shame and self-blame are common reactions for child sexual abuse victims, so let your child know as many times as they need to hear that the abuse is not their fault.



7. Get help. In addition to medical care for physical injuries, it’s vital to help your child get help from a mental health professional specializing in child sexual abuse. Therapy can help victims recover from trauma, and many communities have support groups and centers for victims.



WHERE TO FIND HELP FOR VICTIMS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE


Many people attempt to solve or deal with child sexual abuse at home without getting help. There are many resources and forms of aid that can help you and your child during this difficult time. You might also opt to contact a law firm with child sex abuse experience to help determine your rights or find organizations that can further assist you and your child.

Available resources include:


Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: This is a 24/7 hotline with resources to aid every child abuse victim. Calls are confidential—contact 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) for help.

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: This hotline routes you to a local RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) affiliate organization, determined by the first six digits of your phone number. Call 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673) to connect with a trained staff member in your area who can provide you with confidential support. Staff can also help you find a local health facility equipped to assist survivors of sexual assault.

The Center for Family Justice (centerforfamilyjustice.org): This 24/7 hotline provides free and confidential services with access to counselors. They’re available to help anyone during a crisis and to speak with you about suspected abuse or abuse that already happened.


Also, seek a therapist’s help. Therapists who specialize in sexual abuse can help guide you and your child through this traumatic experience. Therapy for families impacted by child sexual abuse can assist with the healing process. Therapy sessions might include individualized sessions for the child and yourself or family treatment sessions. Different forms of therapy during this time can be beneficial to you and your family.


Finally, report the abuse to the reporting number for your state. You can find state child abuse and neglect reporting numbers here: https://www.childwelfare.gov/organizations/CWIGFunctionsaction=rols:main.dspList&rolType=Custom&RS_ID=5



LONG-LASTING EFFECTS OF CHILD MOLESTATION OR SEXUAL ABUSE


Children who are victims of child molestation are at a higher risk for psychological issues, manifesting in physical ways. Common lasting effects include anxiety and depression. These mental health conditions can cause the victim to feel down constantly, affect their eating and sleeping habits, and even lead to suicidal thoughts and suicide. Child sexual abuse victims have an increased risk of chronic anxiety, panic attacks, or the onset of various phobias.

Another long-term effect directly related to the abuse is poor self-esteem and low self-worth. Children often feel guilty or ashamed, leading them to believe they were at fault for the abuse. Other long-term effects include denial, substance abuse issues, and lack of emotional commitment to sexual or romantic relationships.


Studies show that child sexual abuse victims advancing into adulthood are:

· More likely than non-victims to experience severe mental health problems

· Around four times more likely to struggle with drug abuse and suffer from PTSD

· About three times more likely to develop major depression


HOW TO PREVENT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Child sex abuse can happen to any child regardless of race, socioeconomic status, religion, gender, or culture. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent child sexual abuse, parents and guardians can take steps to reduce the potential risk of their child being sexually abused. Ways to prevent child sexual abuse include:


Staying active and involved in your child’s life. This way, the child will feel more comfortable coming to you if something is wrong, and you will be aware of any concerning changes. Show interest in a child’s day-to-day life and make an effort to get to know the people regularly interacting with your child. Always choose caregivers carefully and know the warning signs of child sexual abuse.


Speaking to your child about their body and important boundaries. Teach your child that no one has the right to touch them or make them uncomfortable and help them recognize when something is not right. Talk to your child about their body parts and let them know to come forward if something happens that violates those parts or their right to feel safe. Your child needs to understand that “private parts” are not for everyone to see, touch, or even talk about in an inappropriate manner.


Letting your child know that if anything ever does happen, they will never get in trouble for speaking up. Always encourage your child to feel comfortable speaking with you about anything, including uncomfortable or confusing situations and their feelings.


Making your child’s voice heard. If a child sexual abuse incident happens, speak up to the media and seek legal action to prevent the perpetrator from continuing to harm children.



DO I NEED A LAWYER?


A child sexual abuse attorney can help child abuse victims seek payment for damages resulting from harm. This compensation can help the trauma survivor receive counseling or care they may need. Find a lawyer specializing in laws regarding child sexual abuse and who knows how to make a victim feel comfortable enough to overcome the emotional hurdles it takes to get to the point of disclosing their abuse.


For more information on how to report a claim and/or the process, please go to:

https://hermanlaw.com/child-sex-abuse/


SUMMARY


Child sexual abuse or molestation are terrible acts with devastating outcomes, affecting many children throughout the world. It’s essential to understand the warning signs of children suffering from sexual abuse and the long-term effects the abuse can have on the victims even as they progress to adulthood.


Remember, if your child experiences sexual abuse, you must reassure them it’s not their fault and that you’ll protect them. Many resources exist to help you and your child through this difficult time. If you were the victim of child sexual abuse years ago, you still have rights and may be entitled to compensation.


At Herman Law, we have experience with child sexual abuse laws, and our attorneys can help determine if you can file a claim. Contact us now for a free consultation. You do not have to go through your trauma alone. We are here to help guide you through the legal processes so you can focus on healing.




Voices for Victims, Herman Law

Hermanlaw.org

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