Home » 8 Effortless Way to Make a Difference – Now!
Take 10 minutes to learn the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse, and what to do if you suspect a child is being sexually abused.
Most child sexual abuse survivors don’t tell anyone that they have been abused, often well into adulthood and sometimes never. I can’t tell you how many adults approach me after I speak and tell me, “I have never told anyone this, but I was abused when I was…”
This is why it’s so important to watch the children in your life closely for non-verbal cues.
Notice consistently poor behavior when going to a particular friend’s or relative’s house. Young children may suddenly start having tantrums when you say you are going to Uncle Jim’s house, for example. Or they may become anxious, silent, or stay far away and out of reach of a person they used to love interacting with.
Older children may suddenly not want to go to their friend’s anymore, or they might be stressed about seeing the friend’s family again.
We often think our kids are just being uncooperative, but there could be more going on.
Even when a child wants to tell, they will rarely just blurt out what is happening to them.
They will bait you first with some gentle comments to see how you respond. If you remain calm and open, without criticizing, shutting them down, or overreacting, they may tell you more. But first they will test the waters to see if it is safe to share. When appropriate, you can ask open-ended questions, but never push or lead. You don’t want to plant ideas, or make them feel uncomfortable and shut down.
Lastly, keep in mind that small children may not have the right vocabulary to explain what is happening to them. Hopefully, someone has taught proper body part names from the start, but that isn’t always the case.
If you want to make a difference, you must prioritize protecting children over protecting adults. Of course, you don’t want to ruin someone’s reputation; but a child can never be un-raped!
For a child who is being abused, your action or inaction can make or break them, sometimes for the rest of their life. Are you willing to stay silent and hope you are wrong? What if you are right?!
Report anonymously if you are scared. But whatever you do, choose to protect the child. They’re scared too.
Recognizing possible abuse is not enough. To stop it, we must take action. Our children are counting on us.
If you notice a possible abusive situation about to happen, or grooming unfolding, try to intervene by gently redirecting to avoid children being alone with adults.
And if you suspect that a child is being abused, report it.
You don’t have to have proof. You don’t have to know for sure. Suspicion is enough to make a report on what you do know, what you have observed, what the child has told you, or signs and symptoms the child is exhibiting.
Reporting can be scary, even as an adult. But you can ask that your report be anonymous. Also, remember that you are not accusing someone of child sexual abuse. You are just reporting that someone may be sexually abusing a child and asking for it to be looked into.
Make the report and trust the process.
Only through vulnerability will we find renewal, empowerment, healing and strength in numbers. Truths will start to be revealed, and you will find you are not alone. Not only will you free yourself, but you will set an example for your children and other survivors to be brave and honest as well.
Whether you participate with The Fiona Project or someone else, your time and talents are a welcome addition to any CSA prevention or survivor support team.
Child sexual abuse is a prevalent, but solvable issue.
Play an active role to whatever extent you feel inspired. That could be simply following the everyday steps above. It could be volunteering and becoming an advocate for CSA awareness, prevention and survivor support. Or maybe something else? Only you know what’s right for you.
Your donation will help to support our FREE programs and services for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention & Healing. (Donations are not tax-deductible.)