You Know Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

You Know Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

1 in 10 American children will be sexually abused before the age of 18. There are approximately 42 million adult survivors living in the U.S. alone.1 This means that you know, and might even love, a survivor. This can be a tough subject to face, but there is good news: now that you know what your friends could be going through, you have the chance to be a changemaker. Your response could make all the difference for someone going through a tough time!

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So what now?

If you or someone you know needs help, free, confidential services are available 24/7. You can call 1-866-FOR-LIGHT (367-5444) or text the word “LIGHT” to 741-741. If you don’t know whether someone you know is a survivor, consider learning more about the survivor experience so you can empathize. Think about the way you talk to your friends–are you supportive? Do they know that you’re there for them, and will listen to what they have to say?

Journal prompt:  Imagine a friend tells you they’re a survivor. What would you say? What would you do? Would it change anything about the way you treat them today?

Victims Almost Always Know Their Abusers.

Victims Almost Always Know Their Abusers.

90% of children who experience sexual abuse are abused by someone they know and /or trust. 30% of victims are abused by a family member, and 60% by someone known to the family or survivor. 2, 3 This doesn’t mean we should be suspicious of the people we know, but it does mean we should think about what kind of precautions we have in place. We have to hold everyone accountable for our kids’ safety, no matter how trustworthy they are.

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We have to establish expectations for the way we treat kids, and each other, so that it’s obvious if boundaries are crossed. A pre-determined set of values around bodies and boundaries can go a long way toward protecting your kids from sexual abuse. It can help people understand what acceptable and unacceptable behavior is, help them make informed decisions, and ultimately avoid dangerous situations.

Journal: what are your values and expectations when it comes to how people treat you? How about the kids in your life? How can you set boundaries so that people honor these values? Check out our free resource for building a Code of Conduct for inspiration.

Abuse Usually Happens When Kids Are Alone with an Individual Adult

Abuse Usually Happens When Kids Are Alone with an Individual Adult

81% of abuse happens in isolated, one-on-one situations between children and perpetrators.4 Through a process called “grooming,” abusers often become friendly with potential victims and their families, enjoying family activities, earning trust, and gaining time alone with children. This doesn’t mean that all one-on-one situations are bad – in fact, with safe adults, individual attention can be very healthy. The key is to create safeguards so that solitary moments don’t become dangerous.

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So what now?

If you eliminate or reduce one-on-one opportunities, you can dramatically reduce the risk of sexual abuse. A good rule of thumb is to keep interactions observable and interruptable. Group activities, dropping in unexpectedly on your kids, and informing other adults that your family is savvy about safety and abuse are great ways to deter potential abusers.

Journal: What are some strategies you can implement to make sure situations with kids are always observable or interuptable? If you have kids, talk to them and ask them to help you strategize. Write down 3 ideas (here are some ways to get started!).

Children Rarely Lie About Being Abused

Children Rarely Lie About Being Abused

It is estimated that only 4 to 8% of child sexual abuse reports are false or fabricated.5 Or, in other words, between 92 and 96% of reports are true. That’s a lot! “Disclosure,” the term for telling someone about your experience of abuse, is never easy for survivors. Kids rarely disclose abuse for attention or to get someone in trouble; if a child discloses to you, it means they trust you to help and protect them. How you handle this situation can change that child’s life.

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So what now?

The best thing to do if a child discloses is:

  1. Reassure them that you believe them, want to help them, and will support them.
  2. Ask open-ended questions like, “how did you get hurt?” or “what happened next?”
  3. Afterward, call your local authorities. You don’t need proof to report abuse!

Journal: What would you say if a child told you someone was abusing them? How would you feel? Make a gameplan now, so that if it ever does happen to you, you’re prepared and know what to do. If you want to know more about how to respond or report abuse, click here.