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This blog article is a tribute to the mothers out there in the world that have spent huge chunks of their lives fighting for the safety / healing of their sexually abused children.  These women are incredible spirits and are an inspiration to us all.

I know mothers who have absolutely gone the distance for their children.  These women don’t get thanked often, but I do want to let them know that they are appreciated, recognized and deeply valued.

These mothers do a lot of things right.

  • They listen attentively to their children, even if hearing the horror stories of sexual abuse breaks their heart.  They want to know what happened, and no matter how hard it is to hear, they listen to every single word.
  • These mothers have clearly done a good job building communication with their children even before this point.  Children have to know that it is ok to tell – “telling the secret” is often one of the biggest barriers in children getting help from their abuse.  The children have to have someone safe to tell, someone they trust, someone that they can rely on to help them.  If the mother hasn’t already built that kind of relationship with her children, she has drastically lowered the chances that her children will ever tell her their deepest secrets of abuse.  Mothers that are approachable will
  • These inspirational mothers do what it takes to protect their children from abusers, including leaving the perpetrator in whatever way is necessary – divorce, moving to another area of the country, going into a shelter, etc.
  • They take assertive strong legal action against the perpetrator such as filing a report with child protective services, filing protective orders, pressing charges against the offender.
  • They withstand the pressure and lack of support from other friends and family members who may, for whatever reasons, oppose taking a strong stance against the perpetrator.  These mothers know that protecting their children is more important than the approval of family members who want to hide embarrassing issues in the closet.
  • These mothers are dedicated to finding helpful resources for their children’s therapy and treatment for sexual abuse.  This is not always an easy task, and it might require a great deal of persistence, but these mothers will persist, for as long as it takes. (If you need assistance in finding support or help, please contact Kathy at AbuseConsultants.com.  There are helpful resources available for you and your children, no matter where you live.)
  • These mothers sit with their children as they cry, they comfort their children after nightmares, they let their children cling to them when “being away from mommy” feels too scary.  These mothers recognize that their children have been crime victims, that they have PTSD from their abuse, and that their neediness has skyrocketed.  Good mothers let it be ok that their children need this extra time and attention to rebuild their emotional security again.
  • These mothers are strong for their children, even when their heart is breaking.  They get their own personal support system to help with their intense emotions (believe me, being the mother of an abused child is a highly emotional situation), and they find a way, place, and time to talk about their own grief and anger so that they can be present and available for their children.
  • These mothers are brave enough to honestly assess the situation, and to look closely at how their children got tangled in an abusive situation.  They learn from whatever mistakes were made, and correct them.  They think back to see if there were any warning signs or high-risk factors that they missed, and learn how to handle things differently now that they are aware of the abuse.  They figure out what to do in the future to keep their children safe from being abused in that particular way ever again.
  • These mothers spend hours and hours of time with their children, even if they are acting-out and emotionally distraught from the abuse they suffered.  The mothers temper their discipline with deep understanding that their children are acting out of their hurt, fear, pain, anger, etc.  These moms realize that their children’s behavioral issues are not about the children being “bad”.
  • These mothers provide new and positive activities for their children to help boost their tattered self-esteem and body image.  They find recreational activities, or artistic activities, etc that give their children healthy feelings of acceptance, accomplishment, mastery, positive self-worth, creativity, growth, etc.
  • Protective mothers will do everything in their power to help their children overcome the long-term negative effects of childhood sexual abuse.  They are determined to not leave their children to suffer in silence and isolation.  These mothers actively attend their needs, provide comfort, and help their children move forward as healthy, productive members of society.

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Helping children recover from sexual abuse can be a long, difficult process, but if non-offending mothers are not willing to be protective and helpful for their children, the negative affects of the abuse can multiply and worsen through the years.  Untreated sexual abuse issues lead to all kinds of additional complicating factors such as addictions, promiscuity, self harm, depression, anxiety, mental health issues, repeated involvement in destructive relationships, angry behavior, destructive behavior, sexual acting out, hospitalizations, additional abuse, dissociative disorders, etc.  The cost of untreated sexual abuse truly multiplies exponentially over time.

Mothers that are willing to help and protect their children as close to the injury-point as possible are helping their children in the here-and-now, and creating a permanent and positive effect on their children’s lives.  These mothers are also making a positive difference that can have a positive influence on society for years to come.

For those mothers that are willing to protect their children, here are my very best wishes that today is the most wonderful Mother’s Day for you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping your children.  You truly deserve a good day today!

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

__________

By:

Kathy Broady LCSW

www.AbuseConsultants.com

www.SurvivorForum.com

*Office sessions available for those that live near the Dallas Texas area.

*Online support and phone consultations available for those who live anywhere else.

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It is very important, when considering signs and symptoms of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), that you use caution and careful judgment. Children, like adults, have a limited number of ways to deal with any stress or trauma. Many of the symptoms of child abuse are also symptoms of other problems.

It is not unusual for children at different developmental stages to have nightmares, experience bedwetting, or ask questions about sex. Some children who are abused, may not express any of the usual indicators of abuse, and may, in fact, be “perfectly well-behaved.” Children who are overly obedient and always seek adult approval can be selected as victims because of their unquestioning obedience to adult authority.

Identifying child abuse is difficult and complicated even for the investigating professionals.

Watch for Signs That Your Child Needs Help

Children may not know or use words about the emotions they are experiencing. Children do not always know how they feel or why they feel a certain way. Sometimes, even when a child has told you about being abused, he/she may not tell everything that happened. Children may express their feelings through behavior.

New Fears

Your child may develop new fears of situations, places, or people. Your child may begin to expect danger to self or others. Your child may become excessively shy.

Anger/Hostility
If children are not allowed or able to express anger towards the abuser, they may take their anger out on others or against themselves.

Sexual Acting Out
Your child may act out sexually. They may show an unusual interest in other people’s or animals’ genitals, or masturbate excessively. They may try to express affection in an inappropriate way, such as fondling private parts.

Sleeping and Eating Problems

Your child may have problems sleeping, nightmares, sudden loss or gain in appetite; they might return to younger, more babyish behavior. For example, a toilet-trained child may begin to wet the bed, an eleven year old may begin to suck their thumb; or a usually independent child may not be able to go to sleep without you in the room.

School Problems
Your child may have difficulty concentrating which can affect school performance. A change in grades or behavior at school is not uncommon.

Loss of Boundaries

Your child’s privacy has been invaded in the most serious way possible and they may not know that they have privacy rights. They may be overly friendly and attached to total strangers, they may tolerate abuse from other children, they may become excessively isolated and withdrawn, or they may become overly obedient.

Self-Destructive Acts
Your child may feel such guilt and shame from the abuse that they take their feelings out on themselves by hurting themselves.

If any of these or other behavioral problems persist and interfere with your child’s ability to live a normal, healthy life, you should consider getting professional counseling for your child and family. How you feel about and treat your child is very important to their ability to heal from the abuse. If you feel calm, guilt-free, and accepting, you can help your child overcome the pain and grow in a healthy way. It is important for you to acknowledge your feelings, but it is also important that you not act them out with your child.

By: Centerforchildprotection.org

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If you live in the northern Dallas Texas area, and you would like more information or assistance with these issues, please contact Kathy Broady LCSW or www.AbuseConsultants.com .

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There are many things you can do to reduce the risks of your children being targeted by a sexual predator.

Reduce the Risk.

As a concerned and protective parent, educate yourself about the facts related to sexual abuse.

  • Abusers often try to earn the trust of potential victims and their families.  This enables them to more easily gain time alone with the children.  Abusers are drawn to settings where they can easily gain access to children: schools, sports leagues, clubs, etc.
  • More than 80 percent of sexual abuse cases happen in one-adult/one-child situations. Think carefully before leaving your child alone with one adult. If possible, seek out group situations instead. If you can’t avoid leaving your child in a one-adult/one-child situation, drop in unexpectedly.
  • Know the adults that your children come into contact with regularly since a sexual abuser could be among them. Ask questions about your children’s teachers, counselors and coaches if you have any concerns.
  • Monitor your children’s internet use. Abusers may use the internet as a tool to interact privately with children, with the ultimate goal of luring children into physical contact.

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Communicate openly with your children:

  • Open, honest communication may be the best sexual abuse prevention tip. Communication, early and often, about sex and sexual abuse may decrease your child’s vulnerability to abuse and increase the chance they will tell you if they are abused.
  • Always talk to your children about their daily activities. Show interest in their feelings. Encourage them to share their concerns and problems with you. Stay in close touch with your child so you will be aware if something changes in his or her life.
  • Teach your children about the body, what abuse is, and about sex. Teach them words that will help them feel comfortable discussing sex with you.
  • Explain that no one has the right to touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable, including adults whom they know and trust. Explain that it is okay to set limits on others who overstep boundaries.
  • Teach your children that it’s your job to protect them, and that you can protect them only if they tell you when something is wrong. Explain that people who hurt children may tell the children to keep it a secret. They may tell the children their parents will not believe them. They might threaten to hurt the parents if the child shares the secret. Teach your children that adults who say that are wrong, and that your children can share anything with you.
  • Understand how children communicate.
  • Children may communicate in a roundabout way by saying something such as, “I don’t like to be alone with Mr. Jones.” They may tell parts of what happened or pretend it happened to someone else to test an adult’s reaction.
  • Children who do disclose abuse may tell an adult other than a parent.
  • If adults respond emotionally or negatively to a disclosure, children will stop talking.
  • Make sure your children understand that if someone does make them feel uncomfortable or confused, you will not blame them. Reassure your children that sexual abuse is never the fault of the children.

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http://www.ehow.com/how_8555_keep-child-becoming.html

http://preventchildabuseny.org/preventsexualabuse.shtml

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Protect your children.  Be proactive in reducing the risk of your children being targetted by sexual predators.

If you live in the northern Dallas Texas area, and you would like more information or assistance with these issues, please contact Kathy Broady LCSW or www.AbuseConsultants.com .

If you live in Texas, do you know how many sex offenders are located in your local neighborhood?

If not, you can find this information for free through the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program.

https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/DPS_WEB/SorNew/index.aspx

Pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 62.005, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) establishes this website [TxDPS Sex Offender Registry] as the official internet public access to the DPS sex offender registration computerized central database.

All information on individual registrants is based on registration information submitted by Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Youth Commission, or various local criminal justice agencies….

All information provided through this website is open record. It may be used by anyone for any purpose….

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While the official count is constantly changing, according to this website, the following lists show the approximate numbers of registered sex offenders living in Dallas and ten of the northern Dallas suburbs at this time:

Allen Texas          40
Carrollton Texas          93
Dallas Texas          2482
Farmers Branch Texas          15
Flower Mound          18
Frisco Texas          22
Garland Texas          280
Lewisville Texas          68
Plano Texas          118
Richardson Texas          31
The Colony Texas          22

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Those numbers are absolutely staggering!!!

Dallas Texas and 10 northern suburbs of Dallas are currently reporting approximately 3189 registered sex offenders.

That’s 3189 sex offenders within less than one hour drive from each other.

Plus, we know that most sex offenders are not caught immediately, and we know that over 30% of the children abused do not disclose their abuse to anyone.

Consequences of child sexual abuse begin affecting children and families immediately. They also affect society in innumerable and negative ways. These effects can continue throughout the life of the survivor so the impact on society for just one survivor continues over multiple decades. Try to imagine the impact of 39 million survivors.

(http://www.darkness2light.org/KnowAbout/statistics_2.asp)

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Do you know what to do to protect your children from being a victim of sexual crimes?

It is imperative that all parents of young children learn more about how to protect their children.  Remember, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse is:

  • 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18
  • 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18

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Sexual predators rely on parents not knowing, not caring, or not believing their children.  As a society, we can undermine the manipulative power of these violent offenders by preparing ahead of time and actively learning more about preventive safety and protection.

I strongly encourage all parents to make it a priority to learn more about ways to protect your children from the horrors of sexual abuse.  With education, and attention, you can make a significant difference in the lives of your children.

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If you live in the northern Dallas Texas area, and you would like more information or assistance with these issues, please contact Kathy Broady LCSW or www.AbuseConsultants.com .

Report Suspected Child Abuse

1-800-252-5400
or 911
or http://www.txabusehotline.org

24 hours a day, seven days a week

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If you live in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, or New Mexico, or anywhere across the United States, call 1-800-252-5400 to report abuse or neglect that has occurred in Texas.

Child Abuse Hotline        1-800 252-5400

In Texas, all suspected cases of child abuse or neglect must be reported to child protective services and/or the local police department. The Texas Family Code 261.101 requires professionals to make a report within 48 hours of first suspecting abuse, neglect or exploitation of children.

If there is any suspicion that a child is being abused, you are mandated by law to report those suspicions to the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services and the police. Anyone “having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect” must report the case.

Do not investigate your suspicions by yourself. That responsibility lies with the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. A report should NEVER be made to the child’s parents. The investigating agency will contact all parties involved.

Anyone who files a report is immune from civil or criminal liability – if the report is made in “good faith” and “without malice.”

  • “Good Faith” means the person took reasonable steps to learn the facts that were readily available and at hand.
  • “Without Malice” means the person did not intend to injure or violate the rights of another person.

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Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is punishable by imprisonment of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to 1,000.  (Texas Family Code, Chapter 34)

Have the following information available when you make your report:

  • Name of the child
  • Age of the child
  • Address of the child
  • A brief description of the child
  • Names of other household members – parents, siblings, etc.
  • Physical condition of the child
  • Current injuries, medical problems or behavioral problems
  • Other contact information
  • Any other additional information that you can provide.

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The Human Resources code Chapter 48 (48.051) requires a person having cause to believe that an elderly or disabled person is in the state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation to report the information required immediately.

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Important Telephone Numbers:

Child Abuse Hotline        1-800 252-5400

Texas DFPS Office        512-438-4800
(Department of Family and Protective Services)

Texas Runaway Hotline 1-888-580-HELP (4357)

Texas Youth Hotline    1-800-210-2278

Governor’s Crime Victim Clearinghouse 1-800 252-3423

National Runaway Line 1-800 621-4000

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If you need further assistance with these issues, please contact Kathy Broady LCSW at www.AbuseConsultants.com .

I am in the Dallas, Texas area, and there are a number of Child Advocacy Centers here.  These advocacy centers are some of the best resources available, especially for providing the initial forensic interview with children, and providing proper guidance for steps through the subsequent legal issues.

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Denton County has the following article on their website.   It’s highly informative, so I want to include it here as well:

http://www.cacdentonco.org/tipsforparents/detectrespond.htm

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A Parents Guide to Detecting and Responding to Possible Abuse

Sexual abuse of children is a widespread and tragic problem — affecting children of all ages and from all walks of life. Children may be abused by strangers…but that is rare. More often, they are abused by someone they know and trust: a relative, friend, scout leader, parent, neighbor, coach, baby sitter. Sexual abuse is not usually a violent act. The child is involved in “games” or seduction over a period of time.

It is also a secret problem-children often do not tell anyone. Sometimes they don’t say anything because they don’t want to upset their parents or are so very embarrassed. Children often think-and are told-that what is happening is their own fault. Or they may believe that on one cares what happens to them. They might be frightened by the abuser’s threats to harm family members if the child tells “the secret.” Young children may not even know there is something to tell; they are taught to respect and obey adults, who “know best.”

Then, how can I know if my child has been sexually abused?

Because it is hard for most of us to even think about the possibility that our children could have been sexually abused, it is important to know the physical signs and changes in your child’s behavior that might indicate they have been. These are “warning signals.” While there are causes other than sexual abuse for many of these signs, they should arouse concern and be looked into.

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Physical Signs.

Any of these signs should lead you to take your child for a medical exam. Whether or not they are the result of sexual abuse, they should be medically treated.

  • Irritated or itching genitals or anus
  • Pain or injury to areas of the genitals or the mouth
  • Urinary infection, difficulty with urination
  • Unusual and offensive odors
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Vaginal or penile discharge
  • Pregnancy
  • Venereal disease (children cannot catch venereal disease from nonsexual means.)

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Changes in Behavior.

Often there are no physical signs when a child has been sexually abused. Behavior changes are more common. For example:

  • Reluctance or fear of a person or certain places, such as showers and washrooms.
  • Clinging, anxious, irritable behavior.
  • Going back to babyish habits like thumb sucking.
  • Sudden self-consciousness about genitals.
  • Fear of examinations of the mouth.
  • Sudden interest in other’s genitals, sexual acts and sexual words.
  • Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age.
  • Acting out sexual or abusive behavior with toys, animals or people.
  • Nightmares, bedwetting, fear of the dark, difficulty falling asleep, or other new fears.
  • Increase or decrease in appetite.
  • Drawings that are scary or use a lot of black and red.
  • Vehement over-reaction when the child is questioned about being touched.

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What if I’m just not sure?

The one most reliable and most common sign of sexual abuse is that the child says so. You may need to “open the door” for your child to tell you. Sometimes children talk in a “roundabout” way and you have to listen carefully for the clues. For example, “I don’t like to be alone with Mrs. Smith” or “Mr. Jones acts funny with me.”

Be careful not to plant ideas in the child’s mind or to suggest what you expect to hear. You will get further, and get a more accurate example, “Something is bothering you. Can you tell me about it?” “I’d like to know more about this.” Be very patient; take plenty of time; don’t push and prod.

Stay as calm as possible. Children often stop talking if they think that what they are saying makes you upset. You may need to have your child examined by a doctor or talk to a counselor who specializes in child sexual abuse. (Your local law enforcement office and Child Abuse Council can help with referrals.)

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What if my child does tell me about being sexually abused?

  • Believe your child. Accept what your child tells you; don’t deny or ignore it. If in doubt, err on the child’s side.
  • Allow your child to talk, but don’t press. If you insist that your child tell you over and over about the specifics, she or he may clam up and may not be able to explain as well to authorities who need to be involved.
  • Protect your child immediately from the suspected offender. You can start repairing the damage at once by assuring your child that the abuse will not continue. Assure your child that it is not his or her fault, that you are glad she or he told, and that there are many people who will help your family.
  • While reassuring that you will do everything you can to protect your child, don’t promise anything that you can’t control. For example, don’t promise that the offender will go to jail-or won’t go to jail; the court systems has control over that.
  • Immediately report the abuse. Call 911 or the non-emergency number for local law enforcement, or call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400

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Does any of this information fit or match anything that you are seeing in your child?

If you need someone to talk to, please contact me.  You do not have to sit alone with this pain.

I understand what you and your child are going through, and I can help.

Sincerely,

Kathy Broady LCSW

Clinical Director

www.AbuseConsultants.com

www.SurvivorForum.com

When children tell adults that they were sexually abused, the three most important responses the children need to hear immediately are:

  • That you will do everything you can to protect them from ever being hurt again – Safety First!
  • That you love them, it was good for them to tell you, you are sorry they were hurt, and you will do everything you can to comfort and soothe them when they are upset.
  • That the abuse was not their fault – that they are not to blame, and the offender was very wrong for hurting them.

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The long-term negative effects of childhood sexual abuse can be greatly reduced with gentle and effective intervention as quickly as possible. When a child actually tells you they were sexually abused, they are in a state of crisis that needs your attention. The child may or may not demonstrate this crisis state externally, but do not take the situation lightly, even if the child does not appear that upset about it. The child may not be able to understand or comprehend the amount of damage that was done to them via the sexual abuse, and thus may not be expressing a crisis demeanor outwardly.

As the adult, you may already know that childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has very serious long-term effects on a child unless it is properly addressed.  If not, please see www.AbuseConsultants.com .  Research and learn more about this topic.  Do not assume that sexual abuse can simply be forgotten or ignored.

The damaging effects of sexual abuse are significantly reduced for a child who receives proper attention after the disclosure compared with a child whose needs were ignored at the time.

It is important to report this disclosure of child abuse to the proper authorities as quickly as possible. You may have trouble finding a counselor or therapist who is willing to get involved in a pre-legal situation. If you are uncomfortable with making the report to the child protection agency yourself, you can make an appointment with your child’s medical doctor or pediatrician.  Informing the doctor of the sexual abuse disclosure will put the doctor in the position of being required to call the authorities. All physicians and mental health professionals are required by law to call about suspected sexual abuse – they do not have to have proof that it happened. A suspicion of abuse is all that is required.

Another highly valuable option is to contact your local Child Advocacy Center.  These agencies are staffed with professionals that are knowledgeable and fully prepared to do forensics interviews.

Once the abuse of your child is officially reported, the authorities will speak with you and your child as quickly as they can. Your local authorities can guide you on what is and is not recommended for you to do at this point.  Be sure to check!

It is important for you to go through the proper channels of reporting sexual abuse in case you need to follow through with formal legal protection for your child from the perpetrator. Make lots of phone calls to check with your local resources about the correct procedures to follow in your area. The last thing you would want to do is to mess up this protection procedure and allow the perpetrator to have continued access at hurting the child due to some messed up technicality. Remember, your first promise to the child is “Safety First!”

An important helpful hint is for you to write down as many specifics as you can immediately. Keep a running log of who said what, when, where, etc. If you see your child doing any odd or unusual behaviors, write that on a list down to discuss later with the authorities, or the child’s therapist. These behaviors may contribute to understanding what has happened.

If the child approaches you to talk more about the abuse, be there for them as supportively as you can. Be careful about purposefully soliciting information from the child while you are still in the investigation process with the authorities. Check with the authorities directly regarding how they want you to handle discussing further information about the abuse with your child. In some places, there is a fine line between offering support to the child and gathering helpful information about the abuse and “tampering with the witness.” Let your local authorities clearly explain what is and isn’t helpful for them, which ultimately goes toward helping the child.

The children that have the courage to report the abuse at an early age are an incredible little people. It is a giant process, and the internal strength required from these children is highly commendable. These children are also very fortunate in that there are lots of things that can be done to to help them at this early point.

Children do not need the negative effects of sexual abuse compiling and compounding upon them.  There are many resources available to prevent this from happening.  Addressing your child’s emotional needs as early and supportively as possible will be so very beneficial for their long-term healing.

If you need assistance with this issue, please contact a therapist that specializing in trauma and abuse.

Kathy Broady LCSW can be found in the Dallas area, or is available worldwide through www.AbuseConsultants.com .

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