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Part 2: What to do if you or your child has been sexually abused

Tips and Resources to get help for child sexual abuse
Tips and Resources to get help for child sexual abuseKrysta Belliston

The National Center for Victims of Crime stated that 28% of U.S. youth have been sexually abused. In these studies it is noted that both girls and boys are at risk. In the United States it continues to be a prevalent issue. As a parent there are ways to tell if your child has been victimized. Once this problem has been identified there are certain steps to take to help yourself or your loved one.

Parents, family, or friend

Local Therapist, Gabriela Galvan de Antillon, recommends the following:

First, finding out a loved one has been sexually abused is both difficult for the victim as well as for the family member. However, there are some things one can do to reduce the person from being further victimized and feeling that they are at fault for the abuse.

1. Try to be as calm as possible. Monitor your tone of voice and body language. This is very difficult to do especially when the victim is your child. Keep in mind they need you to be strong so they can move forward and make this AN event in their life rather than the event OF their life.

2. Choose your words carefully when you ask questions. Many people will ask, “Why did you not say stop or leave me alone? Why did you not leave and look for someone? Why did you let this go on for so long? Why did you not say something sooner?”

These questions are worded in a way that makes the victim responsible in some way of the crime that was committed to them.

Little children easily make a crime like this “their fault” and feel responsible for what happened. This can be very hard for the child/adolescent to overcome.

Instead try getting down to eye level and asking questions in a supportive way such as, “Tell me as much as you can, I love you and I am here for you. Can you tell me how this started? How long was this happening to you? I am so proud of you for coming and telling me what has been happening.”

3. Try to limit the amount of questioning by authors, primary care physicians, school personnel (if it happened at school), or others who are involved. Here in Miami Dade there are resources through Kristi House to help evaluate children who have become victims of sexual abuse. They are like a one-stop shop so that children do not have to re-live the event by having to repeat themselves over and over.

Victim

You can begin recovery and healing with an online help center from Stop It Now! that provides services for different support groups, counseling centers, and ways to file a report of your victimization.

Marriage and Family Therapist, Carlos Cardenas, suggests the following two things:

1.If possible, inform authorities and safety authorities. A common issue is that those who have been sexually abused (or those who know it is going on) will only inform one source and stop there. That sometimes is a responsibility people don’t want to take, and therefore hesitation occurs.

2.Another suggestion is, do not confront the abuser. It could lead to further abuse or damage, and it could lead to a more defensive approach (creating alibis for example) once the authorities intervene.

Look for the therapist that best suits you. You can search many therapists specialized to help you recover from the Psychology Today directory. You can filter your search by price, name, or gender.

Resources

§ The National Center for the Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse at 703-549-4253

§ Florida Abuse Hotline at (800) 962-2873 or TDD (800) 453-5145

§ Therapists in Miami (for victim and perpetrator)

§ For confidential hotlines click here:

· Sexual Violence 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE)

· National Child Abuse 1-800-422-4453 (4 A CHILD) Available 24/7

· Teen Dating Abuse 1-866-331-9474

· National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST)

§ The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Includes help and information concerning:

· Date (Acquaintance) rape

· Coping with shock of sexual abuse from a family member (Intrafamilial)

· What to do if Your Child Discloses Sexual Abuse

· Coping with Emotional Stress of the Legal System

§ For a directory of local judicial and other services click here.

§ Learn about your rights and get pro bono help and more here.

§ To report a cyber crime search several sources here.

§ To report child exploitation contact the National Center CyberTipline.

§ For Internet Safety Training sign up or contact iSafe.

§ For International Hotlines click here.

*Note: If you or your child is in immediate danger call 911.

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