Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse that involves sexual activity with a minor. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity. Some forms of child sexual abuse include:
- Indecent exposure
- Sex of any kind with a minor
- Masturbation in front of or forcing the minor to masturbate
- Obscene phone calls, texts or online interaction
- Producing or sharing pornographic images or movies
- Sex trafficking
- Any other sexual conduct that is harmful
People Who Commit Child Sexual Abuse
The majority of people who commit child sexual abuse are known to the victim or family. This person can be anyone; it can be an adult, sibling, playmate, classmate, teacher and so on. The person who commits child sexual abuse is often able to use their position of power to manipulate victims into staying quiet about the sexual abuse. Sometimes they normalize the behavior or use threats to coerce a child into keeping quiet. Regardless of the tactics used to silence a child, it is NEVER the child’s fault. The effects of child sexual abuse are horrible and long-lasting, creating feelings of confusion, shame, fear and distrust, to name only a few.
Talking to Your Children
Child sexual abuse can happen to any child. However, there are proactive things you can do as a parent or caretaker of children to create a safe space for disclosure or to recognize vulnerabilities. Being involved in your child’s life and having conversations may make warning signs more obvious and help your child feel more comfortable talking about things that don’t feel right. Some things you can do include:
- Show interest in their day-to-day lives
- Get to know the people involved in your child’s life, including children and adults
- Ask questions about their day, activities, and people. Let them ask you questions.
- Teach your children about boundaries. Let them know that no one has the right to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable. Simple things such as hugging family members should not be required if the child prefers not to.
- Teach your children how to talk about their bodies and body parts. How can they disclose if they don’t have the words?
- Be available and set aside time so your child has your complete attention.
- Let them know they can always come to you and won’t get in trouble. It’s important for them to know they can always talk to you, no matter what they need to say.
- BELIEVE your child. If your child tells you of any inappropriate behavior, no matter who the abuser is, it should be taken seriously.
If you have concerns about a situation or want to talk about past abuse, please call us. Our advocates are available every day with free, confidential support. Call 1.800.770.1650 or text iowahelp to 20121.