Sexual assault on a child occurs every nine minutes in the United States.
These sexual assault statistics are staggering, but important to help illustrate how diligent parents must be for their children.
Knowing what to do next is not always clear. However, it’s important to remain strong and be there for your child when they need you the most.
Keep reading for more information on how to best navigate through the steps of recovery for a victim of sexual assault.
What Is Child Sexual Assault, Really?
The sexual assault definition can be tricky, as no two cases are exactly the same.
The technical definition refers to either child-to-child interactions or child-to-adult interactions, in which the child is used for the perpetrator’s sexual stimulation.
However, this is a broad category. Both touching and non-touching behaviors could qualify under this definition. It can affect children of all backgrounds and all development stages.
This is why it is important to educate yourself after your child experiences the unthinkable. This is a critical first step to helping your child move forward. Read on below for further steps you can take to aid in the healing process.
Steps of Recovery for a Victim of Sexual Assault
When the unthinkable happens, the first step is to contact the authorities. Your child should be examined by a medical professional, and the police should be notified.
But after these steps are completed, your child is still left traumatized. Here are a few steps you can take as a parent to help your child heal.
As a parent, one of the most important first steps you can take in the sexual assault recovery stages is just to listen. Let your child release all of their emotions.
Let them know you’re here for them.
On the flip side, it might be possible that your child is not yet ready to talk about it. Let them know they have a support system here for them whenever they are ready to talk.
There are also resources throughout the psychiatric industry for children who may be unable or unwilling to process these traumas. Contacting the police, an attorney, or your child’s pediatrician can be a good starting place to access these resources.
It’s important to continue to reassure your child of a few key messages. Let them know you love them, it’s not their fault, and that you will continue to protect them.
These messages should be echoed in both your words and your actions. This will let your child know they are not alone in the sexual assault recovery process.
Seek Legal Advice
Depending on the circumstances of your case, legal action is a possible next step. While this cannot erase past events, it can help achieve a sense of justice.
Again, no two cases are the same. As such, legal options will vary for each individual situation. Read on here for some examples of how these cases could potentially look.
It’s best to meet with an experienced yet compassionate attorney with a history in this area of law. They can review your case and all of the options available to you.
After an unthinkable tragedy hits—like the sexual assault of a child—it’s difficult to know where to turn. In addition to all of the medical, legal, and criminal resources available, just being there for your child is the first step in the journey of sexual assault recovery.
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