WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR CHILD ALLEGES ABUSE?
BELIEVE YOUR CHILD. It is rare for children to lie about sexual abuse. It is difficult to understand how someone could hurt your child without your knowledge. It is important that you do not deny or ignore what your child is telling you.
DO NOT BLAME YOUR CHILD. It is never the child’s fault when an adult abuses his/her position of trust and is sexually inappropriate with the child.
PROTECT YOUR CHILD FROM THE SUSPECTED OFFENDER. The child needs to know that the abuse will not be allowed to continue.
REASSURE YOUR CHILD THAT IT IS NOT HIS/HER FAULT, AND THAT YOU’RE GLAD HE/SHE TOLD. Many children are afraid to tell, fearful of being punished or of getting the offender in trouble. Often children are told by the offender that no one will believe them, or that bad things will happen if they tell. Reassure your child that telling was the right thing to do.
HELP YOUR CHILD TO COOPERATE WITH THE PROFESSIONALS INVOLVED IN HIS/HER CARE. Your child’s medical and mental health is important. He/she may need a medical exam to protect his/her health and to collect evidence. The Child Abuse Unit will refer you and your child to the CARES Institute for specialized medical and mental health services. Your child may need to speak with investigators from the Prosecutor’s Office or the Division of Child Protection & Permanency. The Child Abuse Unit will try to schedule these interviews at a convenient time for you and your child.
WHAT ABOUT ME? THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME!
The disclosure of child sexual abuse can be very distressing for the whole family. The offender may be the sole means of financial support for the family, or a beloved or highly respected, influential figure. You and your child may have mixed feelings of love, anger, loyalty and betrayal.
Your child’s victim advocate in the Child Abuse Unit can help you to address issues of safety and security, financial need, and other needs that may arise. In addition, the advocate can make medical, counseling and other social service referrals, according to your needs.
Allow your child to express his/her feelings about the abuse, without overreacting. Share your own feelings with someone you trust, such as a professional counselor. You may have many painful and confusing feelings of your own, which will need sorting out.
Resources for child abuse victims
Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Unit – (856) 225-8440
National Children’s Alliance
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
Victims of Crime Compensation Office
VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday)
Office for Victims of Crime