Helping an Abused Child
● When a child discloses, remain CALM. Do not overreact.
● Allow the child to describe what happened. Ask direct, not leading or probing questions. Don’t ask, “did Daddy touch you?” as this can be answered yes or no and can quickly halt the conversation. Instead, ask “what happened to your private parts?” which requires a full answer. Limit the number of people who talk to the child about the incident, to maintain clarity of events, should it go to court.
● From an investigative standpoint it is VERY important that any adult who talks to children about abuse not give them any “adult” words for genitalia or what has happened to them (rape, sexual assault, penetration, etc.), or ask them leading questions. This can not be stressed enough. It is recommended that parents not ask any questions, but only listen if the child volunteers information.
● If there is going to be a criminal investigation, the perpetrator should not be confronted until law enforcement has been made aware. If the perpetrator is confronted by someone, they may pose a danger to the victim, hire an attorney, work to create an alibi, or harm themselves prior to law enforcement having an opportunity to conduct an investigation. It is important that the investigative process go as smoothly as possible.
● Believe the child. Do not minimize their story. Listen and do not fill in words.
● Assure the child that it is right for them to tell and that he/she will be protected from the offender. Protect their confidentiality.
● Reassure the child that it IS NOT their fault and they are not bad. Reinforce that the offender is responsible. Do not burden the child with your anger or any negative feelings you may have. At the same time, it’s important at this point not to be overly critical of the offender. Children are very protective of people they care about and they may care about the offender.
● If the child asks you not to tell anyone, remind them that it is your job to help to keep them safe and you will do whatever you need to do for their safety.
● Provide the child and family members with support and counseling.
● Sometimes a child may recant the disclosure. They may try to “take it back” out of stress or fear, or pressure by someone. It’s important to know that less than 1% of sexual abuse cases reported by a child prove to be false.
Where to find help if not sure of abuse
● Child Advocacy Centers. If you are unsure about whether to make an official report, or if you just need support, contact a child advocacy center and they will help you to evaluate suspicions or answer questions. To find a center near you, contact the National Children’s Alliance at www.nca-online.org or call 1-800-239-9950.
● If you have questions about suspected child abuse, call the ChildHelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD or you may call the Balm of Gilead.
To Report Child Sexual Abuse:
● Call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
● If it is not an emergency, you may call your local non-emergency law enforcement number rather than 911. This is especially true for abuse that is being reported many years after it has occurred.
● Call Child Protective Services (CPS). Look up the number for your local agency.
● Call ALC Balm of Gilead at (360) 610-7250*
Hours of Service are Monday-Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST
* This is NOT a hotline. We are NOT prepared to answer calls 24/7.
We are honored to pray with you and assist you in any way that we can.
And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. (Mark 9:36-37)
This website was created by the ALC Balm of Gilead to assist those dealing with sexual abuse. We are not professionals. This website contains general information about sexual abuse reporting. The information is not instruction and should not be treated as such.
You must not rely on the information in this website as an alternative to legal advice from your attorney or other professional legal services provider. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult your attorney or other professional legal services provider. The provision of this website does not constitute legal advice or opinions of any kind, or any advertising or solicitation. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this website. The ALC Balm of Gilead will not be liable for any damages, losses or causes of action of any nature arising from any use of this website.