Talking To Your Kids About Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse may be scary to think about, but it’s an important topic to address with kids of all ages. Fortunately, there are age-appropriate ways to lay the foundation and build on concepts that will help keep children safe and empower them to speak out if their boundaries are violated.
About Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is devastating. This is especially true when abusers take the form of a trusted person like a mentor, teacher, or caregiver. It can take a lifetime to mend the emotional and mental pain after sexual abuse. This is why The Michael Brady Lynch Firm is dedicated to helping victims of sexual abuse receive civil justice. Someone in a position of authority should have protected you, and we will hold he or she accountable.
Talking About Sexual Abuse Tips
Talking to children about the potential for abuse starts by building a foundation for safety by starting early by using proper names for genitalia. Using the proper terms for genitals, instead of cutesy nicknames, empowers children to communicate clearly about themselves and their bodies. This helps children effectively let an adult know if someone touches them and where. Sex educators also suggest using the terms “safe touch” and “unsafe touch”. These will be better for a child to quantify versus good and bad touching.
It is also good to discuss with children that strangers aren’t the only harmful people. Statistically, an abuser is often someone the child already knows. According to Crimes again Children Research Center, 90% of sexual abuse survivors know their abuser. Experts suggest ensuring children recognize trustworthy behavior. Trustworthy people tell the truth, respect privacy, don’t ask children to keep secrets and give a safe feeling. Tricky people don’t model these behaviors.
Other sexual abuse tips include having an open dialogue with your children. However, actions do speak louder than words. The phrase “You can tell me anything” loses its meaning if parents respond to honest questions or information from children with punishments, aggressive reactions, elevated emotional responses or dismissiveness. Parents should also be aware of their verbal and nonverbal responses. As kids age, interactions happen without the presence of their parents including school, extracurriculars, and play dates. It is important to set up a routine of uninterrupted time each day to check in with a child to stay connected to experiences and feelings. Also, setting up a circle of trusted adults can help. If a child does not feel safe talking to a parent, it is helpful to identify other trusted adults a child can talk to. Children may need additional support. Plus, having other adults to help look for any signs of sexual abuse. These signs include sexual knowledge or behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age, regressive bed wetting, a sudden refusal to change clothing or undress, sudden fear of being alone or away from primary caregivers, and an increase in anxiety.
If Child Abuse Happens
First, if a child reports unsafe touch, it’s crucial to tell him or her that you believe them. Also, let the child know that they did the right thing by coming to you and are not in any trouble. Plus, let the child know this isn’t his or her fault. Perpetrators sometimes blame the child for the abuse. However, reassuring a child of not blame will make them feel loved and safe. This is important no matter the age of the child. Also, there are avenues outside of criminal investigations to assist the child or now a young adult in rebuilding his or her life.
Survivors of sexual abuse can file civil suits against perpetrators and other responsible parties, regardless of the outcome or existence of a criminal prosecution. Civil lawsuits can help a survivor seek monetary damages. This compensation can never change the abuse suffered but can help rebuild a life. Plus, a civil suit can deter future abuse. This is why it is important if you or a loved one was the victim of sexual abuse to contact The Michael Brady Lynch Firm. We will provide a free consultation and instruct of any avenues available to you for civil litigation. It doesn’t matter if the abuse happened years ago, you may still be able to get justice.