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Don’t Let Sexual Abuse Ruin Your Child’s Life: 4 Steps to Intervene

Approximately 25% of girls and 1 in 13 boys experience sexual abuse during their childhood years, and 91% of the perpetrators are someone the child already knows, such as a relative or family friend. Do these statistics shock you? Many children never report their abuse, which means that it’s up to parents and other adults in the child’s life to be vigilant. If you suspect a child is being sexually abused, here are four steps you can take to intervene.

Speak With the Child

Figuring out the situation from the child’s point of view can help you confirm or dismiss your suspicions and should be the first step when you suspect sexual abuse. Try to approach the child in a relaxed environment, such as playtime or over a meal. Be careful not to alarm them with your tone of voice. Calmly ask questions about their time with the suspected perpetrator and whether any inappropriate behavior has taken place.

Notify the Authorities

Your child has described a sexual abuse situation, confirming your worst fears. Now what? The first step is to contact the authorities and file a police report. The perpetrator may not be arrested immediately following the report or they may make bail, so make sure you have a plan to prevent any further contact between the perpetrator and your child. Consider filing for a restraining order.

Obtain Legal Counsel

Bringing a child sexual abuse case to court presents unique challenges, so you want to make sure you have a lawyer on your side who understands how to deal with them. Whether you’re pursuing civil or criminal charges or both, having a qualified child sexual abuse lawyer in your corner can help you get the justice your child deserves.

Visit a Psychologist

Whatever the legal verdict, your child will face lasting mental health consequences from the abuse they suffered. It’s important to take your child to an understanding psychologist who specializes in child abuse cases so they can begin their journey of healing. Child sex abuse is considered an adverse childhood experience that is associated with an increased risk of problems like depression, self-harm, teen pregnancy, obesity and substance abuse.

Were you sexually abused as a child but never reported it? It may not be too late to get justice. Many states are enacting new laws that allow adult victims to file charges against their abusers even if the statute of limitations has expired. You can also consider seeking civil damages.

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