To address and stop sexual misconduct, please read below to find out more about the warning signs of childhood sexual abuse and learn how to respond if you suspect a child has been abused.
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
A child may be sexually abused physically as well as non-physically, such as someone exposing themselves to the child, sharing inappropriate images with the child, and taking obscene photos or videos of the child.
Every nine minutes, government authorities respond to a report of child sexual abuse, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Childhood sexual abuse is almost always perpetrated by someone close to the victim. Those who commit such acts are aware of what they are doing. They know they can use trusting relationships with children to confuse and intimidate their victims and reduce the likelihood that they will report the crime.
Survivors of childhood sexual abuse can often take decades to sort through their trauma and recognize that they have been abused. As a result, in many states, the statute of limitations may have expired by the time the survivor is ready to report the abuse, allowing the abuser to avoid justice.
Where Does Childhood Sexual Abuse Happen?
Childhood sexual abuse occurs in many different environments, particularly those where children have close and trusting relationships with adults, including the following:
- Sports teams
- Foster homes
- Daycare facilities
- Religious institutions
- Doctors’ offices and hospitals
There is a widespread misconception that childhood sexual abuse is exclusively committed by male strangers against young girls in poor areas. Childhood sexual abuse affects both girls and boys equally; it is committed by men and women of all ages, in both large and small communities, and in all areas of the world regardless of race or socioeconomic status.
Because childhood sexual abuse is so common, you should know the warning signs so that you can take action when you suspect it.
What Are Warning Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abusers are skilled at covering their tracks. Therefore, knowing how to identify the various physical, behavioral, and emotional signs of sexual abuse in a child is crucial. Examples include:
Physical Warning Signs:
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Signs of genital trauma
Behavioral Warning Signs:
- Bedwetting or soiling the bed if the child has already outgrown these behaviors
- Not wanting to be left alone with certain people
- Not wanting to remove clothes to get dressed or bathe
- Nervous habits, changes in appetite and other behavioral changes
Emotional Warning Signs:
- Talking about or knowledge of sexual topics
- Nightmares or fear of being alone at night
- Excessive worry
How to Respond if You Suspect Childhood Sexual Abuse
You can take the following measures to talk to your child about your concerns if you see warning signs of abuse or harassment:
- Select a time when the child feels comfortable. Avoid discussing this topic in front of others.
- Use a sensitive tone of voice. Being too serious may scare the child. During this conversation, try to maintain a casual, non-threatening tone.
- Ask the child direct questions. Speak in simple terms the child will understand.
- Give the child your full attention. Ensure that the child says everything they want to say. Do not interrupt them with additional questions.
- Avoid making judgments and assigning blame. Children who feel the abuse is their fault are less likely to speak up about it.
- Reassure the child that you will support and protect them no matter what.
- Having patience is key. Children may find it challenging and confusing to talk about this. Give them the chance to express themselves.
After this discussion, if your suspicions about childhood sexual abuse have grown, you can report it by taking the following steps:
- Before reporting the abuse, ensure the child is in a safe environment and away from the abuser.
- Contact the appropriate authorities if you suspect a crime has been committed. State laws vary regarding which authorities you need to contact. Report the abuse to the police department, the sheriff’s department, the county probation department, and/or the county welfare department in California.
- Maintain your supportive role in the child’s life. Your support will be necessary during this hard time.
The time to get help is now. Contact the Law Offices of Mark Yablonovich today at (888) 306-4228 to schedule a confidential consultation with our team.