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What do I do if I suspect my child or teen has been or currently is being sexually abused?

14 Answers
Last Updated: 05/21/2018 at 12:35pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
Canada
Moderated by

Lianne Kirby, MA in Counselling Psychology

Counselor

I believe everyone should have the opportunity for their voice to be heard. I use a trauma informed, person centred approach in counselling.

Top Rated Answers
Anonymous
January 5th, 2015 8:52am
Abuse is one of the very worst things that could ever happen to a child - and unfortunately it's not always easy to tell whether a child is being abused because very often they don't even know that what is happening is wrong. If they do know it is wrong many never tell out of fear of the abuse getting worse if the abuser finds out, but also because they feel shameful and very importantly that they won’t be believed. Being prepared and knowing what help is available is vital to the child's safety and well-being. Try and make the time to talk to your child and ask if there is anything that is worrying them. Let them know that whatever they say won't get them into trouble. The chances are that they won't tell you first time around so continue to talk to the child. Most children being abused find it very difficult to open up but by having ongoing conversations the time may come when they are ready to talk. Perhaps you could talk to the child’s health visitor or teacher too. One of the best things to do if you suspect abuse is to talk with a trained child protection professional who can give you the support you need and ultimately your child too.
Anonymous
July 1st, 2015 12:13pm
Child can feel fear, guilt and shame to talk about it, as its associated with sexual abuse. Most of the children feels that its there fault. Most of the perpetrator threaten children about not to tell anybody. Handle this matter very carefully. Your trust and support are most important things for child to speak about it. If child feels that he or she will get judged by it, they will not open up with you. Don't force them to answer if they don't want to. It can harm the situation more. Try to explain your child if somebody is touching inappropriately to there private parts or body or doing any other sexual act over child, is wrong and that person can get punishment for that act. Assure them that you are responsible for there safety and apologize them that it happened to them. You can seek professional help to talk with you child and for child's healing after this trauma.
CaitlinRose
October 27th, 2014 7:55pm
The first thing you'll want to do is talk to them and see if they are willing to open up to you. You then may want to try contacting a professional for assistance. Depending on who the individual is, you may also want to consider contacting Child Protective Services and/or the police.
Shaneer
October 30th, 2014 2:03pm
If your child is being sexually abused comfort them and explain to them that what happened is not their fault. Do not scold them, seek help.
Anonymous
December 13th, 2014 8:55am
The best thing to do is to talk to your child/teen about it. Confirm that they have been sexually abused and then seek professional help. Report it as soon as possible!
Anonymous
December 28th, 2014 10:01pm
the first thing to do is to address your child about it in a comfortable setting where he/she feels safe. Make sure that your child knows that they are not in trouble and that you are just trying to collect information. Let your child know that they can come to you if someone is making them uncomfortable. Pay attention to body language, expressions and demeanor. ask the right questions in a non-threatening manner.
Anonymous
April 12th, 2015 6:30pm
Any form of abuse is bad for a child. Sexual abuse might not be visible to people and hence can be hidden well physically but of course it will take it's toll on the emotional well being of someone. If you talk to the kid about it, I guess they might just open up about it to you but you need to have to be patient enough because they will be hesitant. They'll have a lot of doubts and if you rush them to talk about it, it'll only make the situation go from bad to worse. I'm sorry you think this is happening to your child. It's bad. I hope he/she is okay and as are you. You're a good parent.
Anonymous
January 23rd, 2018 2:44am
Show them that you are accepting of it if they were to come to you. Out of the blue, just sit them down and start talk about abuse. Don't straight away go into sexual abuse, or they might feel like they're being interrogated. Talk about abuse in general. Go into different types of abuse. Give as much information on each one so it's not too obvious. And don't save sexual abuse for last or make it first. Put it somewhere in the middle. If they start tapping their foot or finger out of nowhere, are having difficulty maintaining eye contact, etc. when you get to sexual abuse, they might be nervous, meaning that they might have been sexually abused. But even if your child does this, it might just be an uncomfortable subject to talk about in general, so don't take it too seriously either. Tell them that if they, or anyone they know is being abused, they should come to you. Let them know that they won't get in trouble, it wouldn't be their fault, etc. A few days later, bring up another topic like bullying or harassment or depression so abuse doesn't seem to stand out so much. And occasionally talk about it with them during dinner or something where everyone is calm. If you prefer it, you could also just have little sessions where you talk about issues like these. And casually mention abuse along with other subjects too, reminding them that you're always there for them, they won't get in trouble, etc. Hopefully that helps! The obvious answer would be to just ask but in my own experience (being a teenager myself) I think children/teens usually don't find it easy to open up to parents, so having a constant reminder that it's okay would be good. If there is something like marks on their arms or something like that, ask how they got that. Always ask. If they say they aren't comfortable, don't pry too much. It's okay to pry a little, but it's important to show them that you're not forcing anything.
Anonymous
November 17th, 2014 4:27pm
Well, talk to your child. Earn its trust and find a way to be there for it. Don't ignore it. Maybe look for a doctor to help,too.
Tanya26
December 4th, 2014 11:24am
Ask. Always ask. They may be scared and may lie, but they do need to talk to someone, anyone for that matter. Asking may be the key.
softFriend28
April 14th, 2015 11:04am
Hello, I sincerely hope your child hasn't been abused in any way, whether it be sexually, emotionally or physically but if you do suspect then its much better to be safe than sorry. Ive been sexually abused numerous times and I have not told my parents yet because I dealt with the situations appropriately.. but speaking from first hand experience, its not easy at all to tell my parents about what happened because I do not want to burden them. I think that is the biggest issue for me, and the second issue would be fear of them blaming me for spending time with these people when they told me not to and hurting them after all that they sacrificed for me. Personally, I was much more comfortable telling friends rather than family simply because I knew it wouldnt impact my friends emotionally as much as it would hurt my family. So I felt that it was a win win situation, I could get the relief I needed, but I could also be sure to appear fine and stay strong for the people I loved dearly. My parents havent picked up on anything because I hide it pretty well, I only told my sisters because I found out that I fell pregnant and even then it was so hard, my older sister really noticed that my demeanor changed, I didnt ever want to get out of bed, I was more closed up and didnt like to have conversations that lasted longer than 10 mins because I didnt want to cry in front of anyone. Talking to your child could potentially help, but I think it would be easier for your child to open up if they have siblings or someone who you trust that is close to your child and your child feels comfortable with who is close to their age. In the beginning its difficult because self hatred and self blaming overcomes the victim of sexual assault, but not always, I told someone about what happened within 2 days but I told friends (the wrong friends who werent supportive). The most I can say and suggest is to show your child that you are strong and you are able to deal with what happened without blaming them or getting dramatic by showing your concern for them, but before you do that I would probably suggest asking one your other children if they know anything about whats happening with the child that you think is being sexually abused. Although your children might cover up for the child who is abused purely because they promised not to tell anyone, you can see by the way the react or respond to your question whether or not they are telling the truth. All the best
PRUNE4BEE
February 23rd, 2016 6:13am
It is important that you approach with delicacy as this may feel uncomfortable... But if the symptoms and behavior point out to that you could have the talk in the comfort of your home and be approachable
Anonymous
October 16th, 2017 1:15pm
Talk to them. There is no replacement for someone trying to genuinely hear a child out in times of need. And most importantly listen to the without ifs and buts.
endearingLion70
May 21st, 2018 12:35pm
If you notice a change in behavior that makes you suspect abuse you might want to try and address it directly with your child. If this does not work try to consult a professional.