Information For Parents/Caregivers on Child Sexual Abuse
Child Sexual Abuse: A hidden type of abuse
Child sexual abuse is a complicated form of abuse because of it’s layers of guilt and shame. While news stories of sexual predators are scary, what is even more frightening is that sexual abuse usually occurs at the hands of someone the child knows and usually trusts, such as close relatives. And contrary to what many believe, it’s not just girls who are at risk. Both boys and girls suffer from sexual abuse.
Aside from the physical damage that sexual abuse can cause, the emotional component is powerful and far reaching. Sexually abused children are frequently sworn to secrecy and remain tormented by fear, shame and guilt. This makes it difficult for children to come forward. They may worry that others won’t believe them, will be angry with them, or that it will split their family apart. If a child confides in you, take him or her seriously.
What to do if your child reports they are a victim of a sexual assault
If your child reports that they are a victim of sexual abuse, you should NOT conduct your own investigation or confront the suspected offender. This will cause more harm than good and will be damaging to prosecuting the case later on. Instead you should contact your local police or call the child abuse hotline and let them handle the situation accordingly. Click here for more information on How To Report Abuse.
How to Act toward your child after they disclose a sexual assault
As difficult as it may be, it is important that you remain calm and provide love, safety and support during this time. Make sure your child understands they did the right thing by telling someone and stress that it is not his/her fault. Do not pressure your child to talk about things. They may talk more when the time is right. Understand it is extremely important that you do not coach or advise your child on how to act or what to say to professionals or investigators. It is best if the incident is told in their own words.
Things you can do to help your child
When child sexual abuse is reported, parents sometimes feel as if they are on a roller coaster ride of emotions. At times it may be difficult to control those emotions which can range anywhere from shock, hurt, betrayal and anger, to guilt, blame and helplessness. If your child happens to see you upset, reassure them that you are not upset at them. See that your child receives therapy as soon as possible and consider counseling for yourself and your family. For information on counseling referrals and community resources you can either contact the Ocean County Prosecutors Office at 732 929-2027 and ask for the Office of Victim Witness Advocacy click here to also view Available Resources page.
Ocean County Child Advocacy Center Brochure