By Janaina Bordignon, Sexual Assault Crisis Service Child Advocate
Learning about child sexual assault (CSA) can be very overwhelming. After all, it means acknowledging the terrifying risks surrounding the ones we love and want to protect the most.
According to The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be victims of CSA before the age of 18, and 90% of child victims know their perpetrators. As parents and caregivers, educating ourselves on such a prevalent matter can help us provide a child with the support they need and deserve.
It is important to note that according to the CT Alliance to End Sexual Violence, “only about one-third of child sexual assault survivors disclose their assaults during childhood.” That considered, a child’s disclosure is an amazing act of courage.
If a child tells you about a sexual assault, here are some steps to follow:
- Thank them for telling you and tell them you believe them.
- Reassure them that what happened is not their fault and that they are not in trouble for it.
- Explain that you will have to reach out to other adults to make sure they are safe.
- Listen to what they are able to tell you, but do not press for answers. Feeling interrogated can be confusing and re-traumatizing for a child.
- Remember to remain calm. Children model their views of the world based on the reactions of the ones they trust. This can be difficult and feelings you have towards this process are valid. What happened is also not your fault and you do not have to go through this alone.
- Seek appropriate medical care and social services, notify proper authorities, and get in touch with resources for your child, as well as for your family.
YWCA New Britain Sexual Assault Crisis Service offers 24/7 free and confidential hotlines, both in English and Spanish, where you can find support and information without judgment. If you’re outside the greater Hartford area, you can also access the National Child Abuse Hotline for resources, 1-800-244-4453, or RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) at 1-800-656-4673 (4673).
For more information, please access The Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence , RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), or find the closest Center for Children’s Advocacy .
24/7 toll-free English Hotline: 1-888-999-5545
24/7 toll-free Spanish Hotline: 1-888-568-8332