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Steps to take if your child has experienced sexual abuse

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Childhood Sex Abuse |

Discovering that your child may have experienced sexual abuse causes distress and alarm. You can protect their safety and well-being with immediate assistance.

Understanding the appropriate actions to take can guide healing when your child suffers sexual abuse.

Stay calm and reassure your child

While parents in this situation naturally feel upset and angry, try to remain calm when talking to your child. Reassure them that they are safe, you will protect them and they did not do anything wrong.

Create a safe space for your child to express themselves. Listen attentively without passing judgment or blaming. Let your child know that you believe them and that they can openly share their feelings.

Seek medical attention

Visit your child’s pediatrician right away, especially if they are experiencing discomfort or pain.  The healthcare provider can conduct a thorough examination, document physical signs of abuse and provide appropriate care.

Contact appropriate agencies

Contact your local law enforcement agency or child protective services to initiate an investigation. Providing details and any evidence you may have can aid in the investigation.

Consider consulting with a child abuse specialist or a child advocacy center. These professionals have the necessary training to handle cases of child abuse. They can offer guidance on the best course of action.

If the suspected abuse occurred in a school or daycare setting, inform the relevant authorities at the institution. When they are aware of the situation, they can take appropriate measures to protect other children.

Restrict contact

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91% of child sexual abuse cases involve someone the family knows and trusts. Take immediate steps to eliminate contact between your child and the alleged perpetrator. You may need to file for a restraining order or take other legal measures to ensure your child’s safety.

Seek counseling

Enlist the help of a qualified mental health professional who specializes in working with children who have experienced trauma. Counseling can provide support for your child as they process their emotions and work towards healing.

You should also explore support services for yourself and other family members. Coping with the aftermath of sexual abuse can be challenging, and seeking support from counseling or support groups can be beneficial.

Cooperate with authorities

Cooperate fully with law enforcement and child protective services throughout the investigation. Provide any information that may assist in their efforts to ensure justice and protect your child.

Taking immediate and decisive action can help you achieve justice for your child after they experience sexual abuse. Give them the necessary support as they cope with this difficult situation and begin to heal.