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California Legal Blog For Victims Of Abuse

What to know about the National Sexual Assault Hotline

If there is one thing that child sex abuse victims wished they could do to end the shame, torment and pain they experience, it is to tell someone about what they are going through. The lack of such an outlet where their voices can be heard without judgment is something that keeps most survivors in their own personal hell.

Fortunately, there is now a hotline where abuse victims can get help. 

Steps needed to end the stigma of sexual abuse

It may go without saying, but all types of families carry secrets. They may revolve around infidelity or some type of sexual deviancy, but they are secrets because of the shame or social stigma they carry. Victims of child sexual abuse common live with these secrets, trapped in a world where people say they want to help or understand what abuse survivors go through, but rarely want to discuss the topic openly.

This is arguably why so many abuse victims live in their own withdrawn world, ostensibly safe from public scrutiny. But while they may feel safe from public scorn, they still live their own demons manifested in lack of self worth, anger (at their abuser or others who did not believe them) and depression. This often leads to self-destructive behavior and even worse, a perpetuation of the cycle upon others. 

How should you talk to your child about sexual abuse?

Parents may feel uncomfortable discussing sexual abuse with their young children, but it is an important topic to address. Openly discussing sexuality and proper physical contact teaches your child about healthy boundaries and behavior. Your child will also feel more comfortable bringing issues to your attention. How should you talk to your child about healthy interactions and abuse?

The mental conditions sex abuse victims may deal with

In our last post, we highlighted the signs that parents and caregivers should look out for that signal that a child could be victim of sexual abuse. Indeed, these outward signs may not always be easy to detect, but they are important nonetheless. For those children who have experienced abuse, they run the risk of developing serious emotional difficulties that can affect their performance in school and compromise social skills.

Left untreated, child sex abuse victims may have difficulty having (and preserving) healthy relationships and may develop mental health issues. This post will highlight a few of the issues sex abuse victims could experience. 

Getting past misconceptions about child sex abuse

In our prior post, we highlighted the common signs that parents and caregivers should look for to determine if a child is being abused. With all the information and statistics on how often children are abused, many people have a misunderstanding of what exactly abuse is (and is not). First and foremost, sexual exploitation is just as pervasive and destructive as sexual abuse. Both involve the erotic use of a child in physical and emotional ways, but many may not understand the extent of actions that comprise sexual abuse.

This post will examine some of the common misconceptions about sexual abuse. 

Signs that a child is being sexually abused

Sexual abuse is such a shameful and terrible crime. Not only do victims have to experience the horror and indignation of being violated, they often suppress the emotional pain their emotional pain because of the social stigma assigned to sex abuse victims.  Essentially, many times victims are not believed, or they are too young to know what they are experiencing is a crime.

Because of this, many abuse victims deal with their pain in the wrong way, especially if they believe that no one will believe their stories of abuse or that they are not supported by family or friends. As such, they suffer in silence and may rely on drugs, alcohol or other destructive activities to medicate themselves.

Protections for child sex abuse victims in court

In our prior posts, we have highlighted how difficult it can be for victims of sexual abuse to recall specific instances because the pain of their encounters can become too emotionally difficult. Also, the experiences of flashbacks and loss of self worth can lead to a downward spiral of self-destructive activity.

 Even with this in mind, some child victims must still testify in court to provide sufficient evidence to convict their abusers. The difficulty of this can certainly be overwhelming, especially in a court of law where all eyes are upon the victim, who may already be emotionally traumatized by having so much attention drawn on them, let alone having to describe incredibly painful and embarrassing moments of their lives. 

Why am I experiencing flashbacks now?

If you are wondering why you are experiencing horrific flashbacks of your childhood now, it could be a complicated explanation involving a number of factors. It could be a potential defense mechanism that locked away horrible memories of abuse or rape. It could be the lack of triggers that would have unlocked what you experienced as a child or teen.

Nevertheless, the nightmares, anxiety and other symptoms of PTSD can come crashing down suddenly, leading to destructive behavior and even more pain. 

How sexual predators can hide in plain sight

Mainstream America is trained to see child sexual predators as creepy, sinister characters that children would not normally gravitate towards; individuals with a “boogeyman” quality to them. Unfortunately, sexual predators and those who do not commonly abuse children rarely fit this description.

Instead, a majority of sex offenders are well known people who would not be suspected of abusing children. Some are even upstanding members of the community. Yet, they hide the habits they perpetuate and abuse children without any suspicion. Some abusers may be caregivers, whether they are family members or trusted hires who spend a great deal of time with children. Further, they tend to lure children through playful coaxing, bribing them with offers of money, candy or other sweet treats.

Survivor awarded $2M in sex abuse cover-up case

Speaking up about sexual abuse is not an easy thing to do – especially for children. Being the victim of sexual abuse by an adult often carries feels of guilt or shame that can be hard to overcome. Sadly, sometimes those who do find the strength to tell someone they trust about instances of abuse are met by skepticism or otherwise negative reactions.

A recent lawsuit highlights this unfortunate reality for some survivors of abuse. Fortunately, it also highlights the fact that justice is possible even under these circumstances.