The Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse
Stopping child sexual abuse... before it can happen.


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Resources And Tips If Your Child Was Sexually Abused

Knowing that your child was sexually abused is heartbreaking, terrifying, and confusing. If your child recently told you they were abused, and you have not yet reported this to the police or another child protection agency such as a child advocacy center, sexual abuse nonprofit, or child protective services, please visit the section about reporting allegations before reading this.


While the revelation that your child was abused is certainly earth-shattering, you first need to know the difference between the myths about abuse that you may have heard or assume, and the facts about abuse. For a more detailed look at the facts, please see the facts section about child sexual abuse.

Here are some of the myths (black bullet point) that get tossed around and the facts (circle bullet point) that counter them:

 

  • Only girls are abused
    • Boys account for up to 18% of victims, though the actual number may be higher because boys disclose less than girls. It is thought that boys are abused at similar rates to girls.
  • Only men abuse children
    • A small minority of women do perpetrate sexual abuse.
  • Only adults abuse children
    • 35.6% of sexual abusers are juveniles at the time of their offense.
  • Child sexual abuse can happen anywhere
    • Abuse usually happens in one-on-one situations in the residence of a victim or perpetrator, while around 23% does not. 

 

  • Boys who are abused are harmed less by it
    • Boys who are sexually abused, by women or by men, are still harmed by abuse. They are not gay if a man abused them, nor will that make them gay.
  • If a child enjoyed it, it was not really abuse
    • While children can feel physically stimulated, sexual acts done to a child are still very confusing and can be very harmful to the child. Children are never, ever responsible for their abuse.

 

  • Strangers and sex offenders perpetrate abuse
    • 91% of sexual abusers are known and trusted by the victim (33% family, 58% acquaintance), and the family, and 95% of those arrested for new sex crimes are being caught for the first time. Strangers account for about 4% of sexual abuse perpetrators, and registered sex offenders account for about 5% of sexual abuse perpetrators.
  • Children lie about being abused
    • False reporting rates for child sexual abuse are typically between 4-8%, and it is more typical for false reports to be initiated by adults than children.

Tips

Above all, believe your child. There is only a 4-8% chance that they are lying to you, and not believing them can make it much harder for them. While getting expert help and resources can be helpful, there is a chance that you are more affected by knowing that they were sexually abused than they are. Overreacting and taking them to see therapists if they do not need them can make the trauma worse, not better. Pay attention to what your child needs, and talk with them about what they want. They need to be your priority, and to help them, you will also need to take care of yourself. If you need someone to talk to, do not hesitate to find resources in your area. A child advocacy center can help you with these things. 

Resources

There are many organizations that specialize in helping victims of child sexual abuse, and this site is not one of them. Please use the resources below.

 

This organization is a coalition of 795 child advocacy organizations, and has tools to search for organizations that are in your community. Each of these organizations has tools that you can utilize, as does the main site. 

USA-specific.

 

Stop It Now! is a fantastic organization that has resources on many different areas, and you can contact them if you need specific help or advice.

 

This links to the fantastic resource page compiled by The Mama Bear Effect, an organization that seeks to end child sexual abuse. Many different organizations are mentioned. 

USA-specific.

 

This is an organization that focuses on supporting people who either have mental health issues, or are getting help from the mental health system. Their site is aimed more at advocacy and those wishing to start self-help initiatives, but survivors may find their information helpful.

This is one of the most known groups in the US that helps those who were sexually abused by clergy or spiritual leaders. They operate nationwide and locally, and their main site is easy to navigate.

 

This organization focuses on mother-daughter sexual abuse, and supports women who were abused by their mothers.

This organization focuses on child abuse, but also has prevention, intervention, and treatment programs available for a variety of situations. Their hotline operates in the United States and Canada and their territories.

 

This organization encompasses resources about sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse by aiming to educate, heal, and advocate. If you are looking for support and healing, you can find it under "programs" from the main page.

This organization focuses on reporting, education, and prevention. While some of their literature needs a fact check (they say that "one child sex offender can have as many as 73 victims in their lifetime", but the facts indicate that the majority have a single victim), they also have resources for survivors from a variety of situations.