If You Suspect Child Sexual Abuse

When Child Sexual Abuse Is Suspected

Not all children react in the same manner when sexually abused. Younger children sometimes may not appear as traumatized as older children. While the older child may understand more about sex and sexuality and feel that the act was wrong, the child may also feel violated and responsible for the crime. However, sexual abuse does have an impact on the child. Several variables may be identified that tend to determine the long-range effects of the abuse on the child:

  • The relationship of the offender to the victim
  • The length or duration of time that the abuse occurred
  • The type of abuse
  • The child's age and developmental level
  • The reaction of significant others to the child's report

What To Do After Disclosure

Please consider the following guidelines if your child reports an incident of sexual abuse to you:

  • Believe the child
  • Reassure the child that you will protect her/him - that you love her/him - and that she/he is not a bad person
  • Do not blame the child; it is not her/his fault
  • Let the child openly discuss the incident, but do not panic or express shock
  • Do not change your behavior pattern - if you have always kissed your child "Good Night," continue to do so
  • Call the police / Child Protective Services immediately
  • Contact a professional therapist or your community mental health center
  • Do not promise to keep the disclosure a secret - tell the truth. You will help her/him by telling others who know what to do

Suggested Readings

  • It's Not Your Fault, by Jance
  • No More Secrets, by Adams and Fay
  • Outgrowing The Pain, by Gil
  • A Look At Child Sexual Abuse, by Conte
  • My Body Is Private, by Girard
  • Somewhere A Child Is Crying, by Fontana
  • The Mother's Book - How To Survive The Molestation Of Your Child, by Byerly

The books listed above are available for loan through the Porter County Sexual Assault Recovery Project. For more information, call 219-465-3408.