HOW CHILDREN TELL ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE
Child sexual abusers can make the child extremely
fearful of telling and only when a special effort
has been made to help the child feel safe
can the child talk freely.
Children may tell you exactly what is happening to them . . .
"My uncle has been playing and touching me on my private parts.”
"My babysitter plays touching games with me that I don’'t like.”
Children may speak indirectly because they are checking your reaction,
they don’t have the vocabulary to describe the abuse, or they may be too embarrassed to be more specific. These kinds of hints should prompt you to begin aggressively investigating to make sure the child is safe.
"I hate boy babysitters."
"My brother keeps bothering me at night.”
"Mr. Jones has a really soft bed.”
In a disguised disclosure, children may very well be talking about themselves. Encourage them to talk about the other child or teenager. They may than tell you who they are really talking about. Be sure to discuss options for getting help.
"I have a friend whose Dad is touching her.”
"What should my friend do if she told her mother she was being molested and her mother didn’t believe her?”
"My friend'’s sister is too scared to tell because her Dad said he would beat her.”
Why Children Don’t Tell --– Barriers to Disclosure
• Children feel responsible
• Children are afraid that adults won't believe them
• Children believe the threats made by the offender
• Children are afraid that they will be taken from the home
• Children are uncomfortable or lack the vocabulary to describe what has happened to them
• Children are taught to be respectful and to obey adults or people in charge (like babysitters, church
leaders, teachers, Uncle Harry, coaches)
• Children fear getting an adult in trouble or disobeying an adult who has requested secrecy
Why Children Tell --– Breaking Barriers
• Children tell when they receive sexual abuse prevention information
• Children tell when they come into contact with someone who appears to already “know”
• Children tell a person who does not appear to be judgmental, critical or threatening
• Children tell when they believe the continuation of the abuse will be unbearable
• Children tell when physical injury occurs
• Children tell to protect another child
• Children tell when they come in contact with someone who may protect them