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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Many child sex abuse survivors relive years and decades of psychological trauma from childhood experiences that leave them in depression, anxiety, and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Many of these adult predators are never held accountable, and the sexual abuse victims are never compensated for the psychological treatment they need to restore their lives to normal.

Sexually abused kids are often harmed by someone they know at school, summer camp, church, youth recreation program, or another institution. Their abuser might be parents, grandparents, other family members, coaches, teachers, or organizers.

Our sexual abuse lawyers answered some of child sexual abuse FAQ below about the sexual abuse of children by the adults they should be able to trust.

Child Sexual Abuse FAQ

What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) [1], child sexual abuse involves a perpetrator intentionally harming an underage child through sexual, psychological, or physical means. Child sexual abuse is a crime usually involving sexual acts with underage boys or girls victims.

The abuse does not need to involve physical contact between the minor and the adult perpetrator.
Common types of child sexual abuse include:

  • Fondling
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Sodomy
  • Masturbating in the presence of a minor
  • Forcing children to masturbate
  • Communicating with children through obscene text messages, phone calls, or digital interaction
  • Sex trafficking
  • Exhibitionism, where the perpetrator exposes their genitalia to a minor,
  • Sharing, owning, or producing pornography or movies involving kids
  • Sexual activity of any kind involving a minor, including anal, oral, or vaginal,
  • Any form of child maltreatment or sexual misconduct harming the minor’s physical, emotional, or mental welfare.

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How Do I Report Child Sexual Abuse?

Any individual suspecting a child has been abused or is missing can call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Helpline [2] at (800) 843-5678. Someone is available to answer your call twenty-four hours a day.

You can also report children’s sexual abuse through the National Sexual Assault Helpline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673). The operator will re-route your call to a local sexual abuse service provider near your location in the community.

Child sexual abuse can also be reported anonymously and confidentially to Childhelp at (800) 4ACHILD (411-4453). Victims are encouraged to call counseling professionals to get support and talk about their unimaginable childhood experiences.

FAQ Child Injury

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How Can You Prevent Child Sexual Abuse?

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) [3], every case of child sex abuse could have been prevented to avoid adverse childhood trauma and health concerns as the victim grows older. Sexual activity with children is sexual abuse due to their inability to give their consent like fully matured adults.

Understanding the warning signs of a child sexual abuse situation will help you identify the inappropriate boundary settings between children and adults and stop the abuse of girls and boys before it occurs. Parents and families can protect their children by learning as much information as possible about sexual and physical abuse.

Families should teach their children personal safety boundary rules to understand when a violation is about to occur and what to do if it happens.

These boundaries include teaching children:

  • It is not acceptable for others to look at your body’s private parts,
  • It is unacceptable for anyone to be asked to look at your body’s private parts,
  • It is not acceptable for anyone to touch your body’s private parts,
  • It is unacceptable for anyone to show you photographs of private parts and magazines, on television, on a cell phone, or computer.

Parents, grandparents, and older siblings must get to know their child’s teachers, use workers, and coaches, and interview any potential candidate seeking a job as a babysitter. It is sometimes apparent to recognize a perpetrator after an assault occurred when they had previously shown more interest in the child than is typical.

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Which Sexually Transmitted Diseases a Certain Sign of Sexual Abuse in a Prepubertal Child?

According to the National Institute of Health [4], sexual abuse involving children is commonplace in the United States. Children diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease require a prompt evaluation to identify what happened and exclude child sexual abuse.

There is likely a questionable reason why prepubertal children are diagnosed with chlamydia trachomatis or Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Acquiring the specific infections is a likely result of abusive contact reported to CPS (Child Protection Services).

Acquiring human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes can be acquired through different transmission modes other than sexual contact. However, evaluating child sexual abuse should be performed. Both viruses that cause genital lesions could be transmitted sexually, but not always.

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Child Sexual Abuse FAQs

What Constitutes Child Sexual Abuse?

Children that participated in sexual acts with a person older than themselves could constitute child sexual abuse. All children have yet to reach the emotional and mental maturity level to make an informed decision to participate in sexual activities.

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) defines child sexual abuse as “accomplished by force or threat of force, regardless of the age of the participants, and all sexual contact between an adult and child regardless of whether there is deception or the child understands the sexual nature of the activity.”

Child sexual abuse can involve contact, touching, and non-touching behaviors. These actions include fondling the child’s genitals, breasts, or buttocks, penetrating the child’s vagina, anus, or mouth, or caressing the child and encouraging them to fondle others.

Non-touching behaviors might involve the perpetrator exposing their genitals to a child, violating or viewing the child’s private behaviors, or discussing sexually explicit acts with a minor.

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What Is Sexual Abuse of Children?

Child sexual abuse involves any sexual act involving contact and noncontact behaviors. Many injury cases of child sex abuse develop over a gradual process where the child molesters build trust or use their power of authority over the child to eventually force or coerce the child to participate.

According to the American Psychological Association [5], most sexually abused children know the perpetrator, who might be parents, family members, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, or use group organizers.

Usually, the child’s immediate reaction to being sexually assaulted involves disbelief, fear, or shock. Over time, children developed long-term symptoms, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Survivors typically require psychological intervention, including group therapy or private sessions by a trained mental health provider.

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How Do I Talk to My Child About Sexual Abuse?

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), many parents struggle with talking to their children about sexual abuse. However, talking about child sexual abuse is a necessary conversation to support your child, and ensure your child’s safety.

Through education, adults can help boys and girls develop safe boundaries and understand when inappropriate behavior could cause them harm.

Your discussion should include:

  • Teaching the child their body part names – Children must understand how to describe their private body parts to express their concerns if something inappropriate is occurring with others,
  • Discussing that some body parts are private – Your child should know that other people should never touch or look at their private parts and that doctors can only examine them when you are present,
  • Teaching them that it is okay to tell someone “No” – Even though the child is taught to respect their elders, they should know that it is okay to say “No” when touching any part of their body makes them feel uncomfortable,
  • Teaching them to discuss their secrets – Many sex offenders manipulate their prey by forcing them to keep a secret. Let your child know that they can always talk to you about their deepest secrets, especially when someone is doing something that makes them uncomfortable,
  • Telling them that they will not get in trouble – Sex offenders can manipulate their sexual prey by instilling fear that they will get in trouble or upset their parents if they speak up about what happened.

Maintain an open dialogue with your child to ensure their safety, even into their teen years, when they are just as easily manipulated into engaging in sexual acts they might not want.

FAQs Child Injury

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What Are the Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse?

Researchers believe that most children will never talk about being sexually abused. Because of that, parents and families must understand the physical signs and behavioral/emotional changes of a child being sexually assaulted.

Many children respond differently to child sexual abuse depending on their age, the severity of the assault, and if they know the perpetrator. Even so, there are often subtle signs that might be apparent if an older sibling, parents, grandparents, family member, or others are looking.

Behavioral changes in children up to eleven years old that are victims of child sexual assaults include:

  • Acting more quiet or distant than normal
  • Acting out in anger or aggression for no apparent reason
  • Waking up with horrific nightmares
  • Newly developed cleaning behavior
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Newly developed soiling their pants or wedding the bed
  • New complaints of physical discomfort saying there tell mouth, bottom, or head hurts
  • A lack of interest in playing
  • Avoiding specific individuals
  • Problematic displays of sexual behavior
  • Declining school grades
  • Insomnia
  • Swollen or red genital area
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Pain or discomfort when using the toilet
  • Burning sensation when using the toilet (possible urinary tract infection)
  • Unusual vaginal or penis discharge that might be symptomatic of a sexually transmitted infection

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What are the Effects of Sexual Child Abuse on Children?

Many child sexual abuse victims develop a wide array of behavioral and emotional reactions immediately after the incident and years after the physical trauma has subsided. Nearly all of the effects are age-specific.

In some cases, the child cannot speak up about protecting themselves from what happened due to their limited understanding of social boundaries. Immediate reactions to child sexual abuse typically include:

  • Withdrawn behavior,
  • Insomnia and nightmares,
  • Anxiety and depression,
  • Outbursts of anger and aggression,
  • The alarm of being left alone with the specific individual,
  • Inappropriate speech and behaviors involving sexual language, sexual knowledge, and sexual display.

Long-term consequences vary greatly between child sexual abuse victims. Commonplace long-term reactions include:

  • Severe impact on the child victim’s mental and physical health,
  • Predictable sexual adjustments including feeling uncomfortable and intimate settings,
  • Post-traumatic stress responses caused by sexual abuse,
  • After years of anxiety and depression,
  • The inability to trust others,
  • Waiting years or decades to disclose child abuse

Fortunately, mental health experts have developed effective support systems managed by understanding caregivers to help child sexual abuse survivors deal with their trauma’s long-term effects of abuse.

Children can go on living their lives for years severely harmed without the answers to questions they need concerning what happened and who is responsible for the sexual abuse.

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How Common Is Child Sexual Abuse?

According to Child Protective Services Agencies [6], over 57,300 children were sexually abused in 2018. Approximately 66% of all child sexual abuse victims were between twelve and seventeen years of age. The remaining one-third of child sexual abuse victims were eleven years old and younger.

Approximately 90% of all child sexual abuse lawsuits involve females, where girls sixteen and nineteen years old are four times more likely to be a victim of rape, attempted rape, or sexual abuse than boys or the general population.

The stress and trauma associated with being a child sexual abuse victim impact your daily living and create devastating mental health challenges. Childhood sexual abuse survivors have an increased potential risk of developing symptoms associated with drug abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Major depressive episodes.

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How Do I Prove Sexual Child Abuse?

Many cases of child sexual abuse arrive years or decades after the sexual abuse event occurred, limiting the amount of physical evidence to prove what happened. However, physical evidence is not always essential for convicting the criminal sex offender or required to seek compensation in civil court.

Many child sexual abuse victims successfully resolve their civil case with no other witnesses and no pertinent facts other than themselves and the predator, who will likely not provide any testimony.

A personal injury attorney working on behalf of the victim can show a “majority of evidence” suggesting that the child sexual abuse did occur, and that the individual identified as the predator is responsible for damages.

However, there may be supporting evidence supporting the case, including medical records, witness statements, or the alleged predator’s confession to law enforcement or by texting or sending an email to anyone over the Internet.

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How Do I Get a Young Child to Talk about Child Sexual Abuse?

Most child sexual abuse survivors live in fear that they will be in trouble if their parents find out what happened. However, their silence is often the result of sex offenders instilling worry of retaliation should their prey be unable to keep a secret.

Getting a youngster to speak about what happened requires building a solid relationship and opening clear communication in a safe environment with someone they respect or love.

You can begin the process by talking about the apparent warning signs you have noticed that might include difficulty sleeping, nightmares, confusion, loss of appetite, or agitation about being around specific individuals.

You can ask the minor to discuss why they are bruised, swelling, red, or bleeding from their private parts or ask them directly if anyone has touched them inappropriately. Parents should consider taking the minor to a mental health professional trained in discussing child sexual abuse with children to get them to open up verbally.

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What Do I Do If a Child Discloses Sexual Abuse?

Children who disclose that they were sexually assaulted have usually been living in fear of what will happen when they speak up. Sexually abused children often take weeks, months, years, or decades to reveal fully about precisely what happened.

Some children never discuss their sexual abuse trauma with anyone. However, statistics show that:

  • Boys tend never to disclose their secret of sexual abuse more than girls,
  • School-age sexually assaulted children tend to tell their caregivers more than their parents,
  • Sexually abused teenagers are more likely to tell their friends what happened,
  • Very young children usually reveal the abuse accidentally, unaware that they lack the words to explain what happened.

Children disclosing child sexual abuse are looking for assurance that they will be protected and that what happened was not their fault. How you react will determine how children deal with the trauma and pain they experience from child sexual abuse.

It is best to stay calm, believe what the toddler, tween, or teenager says, and protect them by getting them away from the predator into a safe environment.

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What Do I Do If a Child Reports Sexual Abuse to an Educator?

Educators, teachers, and religious leaders play a crucial role in preventing and responding to sexual child abuse. Teachers are trained to report any incident or suspicion of child sexual abuse to ensure that the children are out of harm’s way and protected against further abuse and neglect from their abuser.

Many of these educators know that their intuition tells them that what they see is a bit “off” and requires further investigation. In many incidents, their students feel unsafe at home and do not know where to turn to look for help.

Their experience of child sexual abuse likely involves the predator telling them to keep a secret to avoid getting anyone in trouble over what occurred. Educators can tell children that their secrets cannot keep them safe and that opening up will provide an avenue for healing.

Educators reporting what happened can lower the cases involving sexual abuse of boys and girls and could make a world of difference for children looking for help.

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What Do I Do If a Court Does Not Help with Child Sexual Abuse?

It is exceedingly challenging for the local district attorney to win a child sexual abuse case because the assault typically happened months or years ago. In time, the young child’s memory waivers about what happened, and there is no physical evidence that can substantiate the charges.

The case may never go to trial if the alleged predator chooses not to plead guilty to the charges. However, there may be other avenues for the victim to seek justice other than ensuring that the predator is convicted of child molestation.

A child sexual abuse survivor can file a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation from the predator and any other individual that might be responsible for allowing the assault to occur or fraudulently concealing what happened.

Winning a personal injury case involving child sexual abuse does not require evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Statistics show that the bar for successfully resolving the case is significantly lower than a criminal charge and would likely be resolved through a negotiated settlement, meaning that the victim would never have to testify in open court about what happened.

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What Is the Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Abuse Charges in Illinois?

In 2017, the Illinois State Legislature enacted a state law to protect sexually assaulted victims better by eliminating the deadline required for an abused victim to file a civil lawsuit. However, the loss changes only affect child sexual abuse cases, where the survivor was assaulted in 2017 or sooner.

Older cases (before 2017) require that the sexual abuse survivor filed a civil lawsuit before the thirty-eighth birthday or within five years from the time they knew that they suffered harm caused by the child sexual abuse.

There is an exception that suspends the statute of limitations if the predator or others responsible for the child sexual abuse fraudulently concealed what happened.

The newly enacted statute (735 ILCS 5/13-202.2) [7] states, “when the person abused is subject to threats, intimidation, manipulation, fraudulent concealment, or fraud perpetrated by the abuser or any other person acting in the interests of the abuser” the statute of limitations is suspended.

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What Happens When Sexual Abuse Is Suspected, but the Child Does Not Report?

You must report any suspected incident of child sexual abuse, even if the youngster is not ready to speak out about what happened. Most sexual predators have more than one victim and are always looking for the next prey.

Reporting the incident will initiate an investigation and likely stop the sexually aggressive man or woman’s actions while facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit.

Additionally, reporting the crime will create a legal barrier between the child and their abuser to ensure that they are not continually assaulted if the predator can get away with their unacceptable behavior.

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How Do I Heal from Sexual Abuse by a Brother As a Child Now That I Am An Adult?

Sibling sexual abuse is a problem all too common in the United States. Many sexually abused survivors harmed by a sibling experience ambivalence and ongoing conflicting feelings after being hurt by family member abusers.

Child sexual abuse victims are often filled with isolating and confusing emotions, including guilt that they were somehow compliant to their predator’s humiliating and abusive requests. Sibling sexual abuse that lasted for decades likely progressed over time, making the abuse worst through power, coercion, or force.

Parents that know what happened might want to shift blame from the abusers to the survivors, saying it was their fault because they should have never complied. However, even if you feel stuck, hopeless, and powerless, there is a future with or without parents or family support.

Mental health experts have found numerous tools to help child sexual abuse victims deal with their trauma to experience healthier and more normal lives. Many traumatized boys and girls wrote to be still members of society, adding value to their community.

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Where Does Childhood Sexual Assault Occur Most Often?

Many cases of sexual assault against children occur when a minor is involved in organizations, institutions, and schools. In recent years, many sexual assault cases have come to light involving the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and other youth organizations that allowed sexual predators continuous access to innocent children.

Many victims wait years to open up about their abusers and how they were raped, sodomized, or sexually assaulted by people in charge.

The Boy Scout, student or young church member had no protection from the organization where the predator exposed them to sexual molestation, child pornography, and inappropriate sexual acts in their childhood.

In the last decade or so, our personal injury law firm (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) has fought back against adults in religious organizations, Boy Scouts of America, schools, and institutions that neglect and fail to protect victims of child sexual abuse.

Our personal injury attorneys understand how the legal system handles sexual abusers and the impact it has on their sexual abuse children. Let us answer your questions today. A clergy abuse attorney can provide all the necessary resources you will need to build a case for compensation.

Many of our clients have secured money damages to help restore their lives years after they were harmed.

Resources: [1] RAINN, [2] National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, [3] CDC, [4] National Institute of Health, [5] American Psychological Association, [6] Child Protective Services Agencies, [7]

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