Building Hope Today > FAQs

FAQs

The impact of child sexual abuse can impact a survivor in various ways. That effects can be felt by survivors at any point in their life. The effects can be felt even if their abuse was reported or not. While survivors may struggle with any of the following effects, it is okay. Also, hope and healing are very possible!
Adult survivors of child sexual abuse generally experience mild to severe issues with one or more of the following:

Guilt, shame, or blame.  Sometimes we as survivors berate ourselves for not stopping the abuse, or even blame ourselves for the experience if any physical enjoyment occurred.  Here, it is important to understand that a child cannot be held accountable for the feelings or decisions of an abusive incident. Instead it is must be the person who violated that child’s right to be well and safe who should be held accountable.

Intimacy with loved ones.  As an adult, intimacy might be a struggle for survivors of abuse. Some survivors experience flashbacks or painful memories while engaging in sexual activity, even if it is loving and consensual. Survivors may also struggle to set boundaries that help them feel safe in relationships – or overset those boundaries causing isolation and despair.

Self-esteem. Survivors may struggle with low self-esteem stemming from having our personal safety violated and our right to our own bodies entirely disregarded. Low self-esteem can spill into almost any area of one’s life, and it’s one more reason why caring and professional help should be sought by survivors – at any age or time.

The important thing to remember is this:  Sexual abuse is a form of trauma for which the mind’s natural reaction is to preserve and protect.   These effects, while sustaining life initially, if left un-cared for can lead to depression, isolation, addiction, violent or criminal behaviors, and even suicide as the years progress.  If you know, or even suspect that you were abused, please seek help.  Many resources are provided under the I Need Help tab on this website. Hope filled tomorrows are possible for all adult and child survivors.

Yes, there are personal barriers to opening up and seeking help.  Sometimes survivors find it difficult to find a confidante and to take that first step towards healing. But let there be no doubt that the courage required to take those steps are greatly rewarded with a more vital and abundant life.

First, it’s important to know that the vast majority of women and men who were sexually abused will never become abusive.  Instead, we as survivors tend to contend more with the issues of self-image and overcoming social stigmas on our way toward healing.

For man and women equally, the issues of shame and self-acceptance are the most prevalent.  But in recent years, it has become clear that there is much ground to be covered in deepening our understanding of how men emotionally respond to and heal from sexual abuse.

Men who seek help must first overcome the widely-accepted standards of masculinity that discourage men from acknowledging any experiences of victimization.  Women can often come together as victims, garnering strength and personal power.  Men would rather fight alone… to their own detriment.

Because of this, meeting someone who listens, believes, and respects whatever steps a man is taking toward his healing is a crucial element in a man’s journey.  If the voices of support and empathy aren’t greater than his need to avoid feelings of shame or victimhood, he will postpone his journey and may fall into increased isolation.

For counselors and other professionals, men and women both seem to benefit from normalizing the fact that 1 in 6 men has experienced childhood sexual abuse and that 1 in every 5 men experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetimes.  We as survivors of childhood sexual abuse are (tragically) more prevalent in society than most of us ever imagined – which can help embolden men and women both and get them onto paths of recovery.

Lastly, for both genders, whether a person is gay, straight or bisexual, it is well documented that sexual orientation is neither the cause nor the result of sexual abuse.  Whatever the gender of their abuser that does not determine an individual’s sexual orientation.

Physical signs of sexual abuse may be present after an incident, but the emotionaland behavioral signals are much more prevalent.  Signs in general may include but are not limited to:

Younger Children:

  • Regression
  • Bed wetting or loss of bowel control.
  • Nightmares and night tremors
  • Withdrawal
  • Aggression
  • Developmental delays
  • Sexual behaviors that they couldn’t/wouldn’t know about unless they had been sexually abused, witnessed behaviors of adults in the home or were exposed to pornography
  • Excessive masturbation (often in public)

 Elementary School Age Children:

  • Failure in school
  • Lack of attention or concentration
  • Lack of social skills to make or maintain friends
  • Acting out sexually
  • Excessive masturbation (even in class)
  • Inappropriate sexual talk
  • Withdrawal
  • Aggressive behaviors toward others
  • Depression
  • Fighting with peers
  • Anxiety

Middle and High School Age Children:

  • Poor school attendance
  • Dropping out of school
  • Getting in trouble with authority in and outside of school
  • Self-mutilation (cutting, burning, etc.)
  • Suicidal thoughts or gestures
  • Promiscuity
  • Pregnancy
  • Fighting with peers
  • Poor peer relationships
  • School failure
  • Drug and alcohol abuse

If you need help decoding some of these signals and are uncertain if an abuse has actually occurred, please talk to a counselor at one of these organizations who can help you evaluate your suspicions.  Whatever your feelings, listen to them!  We owe it to our children!

There is both an opportunity and an obligation to help a child when he or she has experienced abuse.  Besides becoming a trusted adult who can responsibly guide and protect the youngster, the law actually requires that we report suspicions of childhood sexual abuse.  Toward that end, please know that there are SAFE places to begin the process of inquiring or reporting abuse or suspected abuse. The State of Idaho and its cooperating non-profit constituents believe that EVERY CHILD possesses the right to be PROTECTED AND CARED FOR.

If a child discloses abuse to you, it is important that you contact the appropriate agency to make a report. However, it is important that you listen to the child disclosure so that they feel HEARD and so that you can pass the information along. It is important that you STAY IN THE MOMENT and listen to what the child says. You should THANK the child for telling you, let them know it was the right thing to do and from this moment they will be listened to. Do not ask leading questions, these can impair the way the child may remember the abusive event/s. Ask open ended questions, leaving room for silence so that they know it is okay to say whatever they need to. Another skill is STAYING IN THE MOMENT, this makes the disclosing process easier for a child. Remind the child they have the right to be protected and that you will do what you can to help the child receive the services that they need.

The same contacts can be utilized for if you have questions and need support as you work through your steps to report or if you are certain a child is experiencing abuse:

Idaho Resources

•  Idaho Department of Health and Welfare / 208.334.5437 or 855.552.5437 / http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Default.aspx?TabId=103

This is the state-run department and is well-equipped to take your good faith report.

• Child Advocacy Centers throughout Idaho / http://www.cacidaho.org/Locations             

 

National Resources

• Darkness to Light  www.d2l.org  / 866.FOR.LIGHT

A D2L counselor can help with your concerns and direct you to a local resource for reporting.

• Child Advocacy Centers  www.nca-online.org  /  800.239.9950

A CAC representative can help you evaluate your suspicions of abuse.

If you are in a situation where you are the one to discover abuse, you are required by law to report that abuse. Discovery may be actually be seeing an abuser harmer a child but abusers are rarely caught in the act of abusing children but it is still possible. You often may discover abuse when you are interacting with a child and see signs of abuse, boundary violations by the abuser, or actions of a child that are not age appropriate or proper behaviors.

The same contacts can be utilized for if you have questions and need support as you work through your decision to report or if you are certain a child is experiencing abuse:

Idaho Resources

• Idaho Department of Health and Welfare / 208.334.5437 or 855.552.5437 / http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Default.aspx?TabId=103

This is the state-run department and is well-equipped to take your good faith report.

• Child Advocacy Centers throughout Idaho / http://www.cacidaho.org/Locations             

 

National Resources

• Darkness to Light  www.d2l.org  / 866.FOR.LIGHT

A D2L counselor can help with your concerns and direct you to a local resource for reporting.

• Child Advocacy Centers  www.nca-online.org  /  800.239.9950

            A CAC representative can help you evaluate your suspicions of abuse.

If your senses tell you clearly that an incident has occurred, go with it.  That said, it is best NOT to try to “draw” out all the details from your child.  As hard as this may be for you to resist, it could be very difficult for the child and harm any subsequent truth-gathering if the incident was particularly invasive or hurtful.   The task of finding out what exactly happened should be left to professional caregivers who are trained to do so.  If your child brings up the subject and wants to talk about it, listen to your child without commenting or questioning.  Instead, simply sure to reassure your child that he or she will be all right and you’ll take care of it.

Taking care of it should generally begin with a report the suspected act, or, at minimum, a consultation with someone who can help bring clarity to the matter.  (see How Do I Report Suspected Sexual Abuse? In this FAQ).  If you are advised to take your child to a trained professional, please do so. It’s imperative for the child’s long term well-being.

If you elect to take an appointment, prepare your child without any manipulation or “baits and switches.”  You might say, “We’re going to a place where kids get to talk about uncomfortable things in order to start feeling better about it.  We’re going to do this together, and we’re going to make sure you feel better and feel safe!”

Throughout this process, it’s important to stress that the child is NOT IN ANY TROUBLE.  Trust and comfort levels with you as their advocate is essential.

The same contacts can be utilized for if you have questions and need support as you work through your decision to report or if you are certain a child is experiencing abuse:

Idaho Resources

• Idaho Department of Health and Welfare / 208.334.5437 or 855.552.5437 / http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Default.aspx?TabId=103

This is the state-run department and is well-equipped to take your good faith report.

• Child Advocacy Centers throughout Idaho / http://www.cacidaho.org/Locations             

 

National Resources

• Darkness to Light  www.d2l.org  / 866.FOR.LIGHT

A D2L counselor can help with your concerns and direct you to a local resource for reporting.

• Child Advocacy Centers  www.nca-online.org  /  800.239.9950

A CAC representative can help you evaluate your suspicions of abuse.

The State of Idaho and its cooperating non-profit constituents believe that EVERY CHILD possesses the right to be PROTECTED AND CARED FOR.  Please advocate for that child – and fulfill our obligations under the law – by taking an appropriate and potentially life-saving course of action.

The same contacts can be utilized for if you have questions and need support as you work through your steps to report or if you are certain a child is experiencing abuse:

 

Idaho Resources

• Idaho Department of Health and Welfare / 208.334.5437 or 855.552.5437 / http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Default.aspx?TabId=103

This is the state-run department and is well-equipped to take your good faith report.

• Child Advocacy Centers throughout Idaho / http://www.cacidaho.org/Locations             

 

National Resources

• Darkness to Light  www.d2l.org  / 866.FOR.LIGHT

A D2L counselor can help with your concerns and direct you to a local resource for reporting.

• Child Advocacy Centers  www.nca-online.org  /  800.239.9950

A CAC representative can help you evaluate your suspicions of abuse.

Sometimes it’s difficult for we as survivors to clearly recognize that we were indeed abused. The mind’s own process of “dissociating” the event from our conscience plays a part in this, as well as the natural shame and embarrassment often associated with the incidents.  Dissociation is “the disconnection or separation of something from something else or the state of being disconnected”. In the end, survivors can be assured that we have been the victim of abuse if:

  • You were shown pornography and encouraged to act or mimic the material.
  • As a minor, you were touched sexually by an adult or by another child who had power over you; or vice versa.
  • There was an element of manipulation in trying to get you to try something sexual, e.g., attempting to distance you from others, or holding the behavior against you (such as, “If you tell anyone, then…”).  For more information on this kind of manipulation, called “grooming,” please visit this page.

It is our view that everyone — no matter the degree of trauma — can benefit from sitting in a safe, confidential environment and becoming open to a fresh perspective on a situation.   The courage required to welcome some mindful and professional help is greatly rewarded in these circumstances, and lives are gradually liberated again to be enjoyed to their fullest.

Resources that you can utilize to help found counseling and sources for help include:

Idaho Resources

•     Idaho Careline / http://211.idaho.gov/ / Dial 211 or 1-800-669-3179

•     Child Advocacy Centers throughout Idaho / http://www.cacidaho.org/Locations

•  Idaho Children and Adult Mental Health Resources for all regions of Idaho / http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Default.aspx?TabId=103

 

National Resources

    Child Advocacy Centers  www.nca-online.org  /  800.239.9950

A CAC representative can help you evaluate your suspicions of abuse.

•  https://www.rainn.org/articles/adult-survivors-child-sexual-abuse /
 – Support for Adult Survivors of child sexual abuse

If you’re experiencing sexual fantasies or compulsions that are becoming beyond your own ability to manage, we honor you for your courage and we urge you to act toward your own peace and wellness — not to mention protecting a child whose life would be forever altered with an act of violation against them.

There are many counselors who specialize in sexual behavior, including these below:

List of resources throughout all Idaho Counties

•  Idaho Careline / https://211idaho.communityos.org/zf/taxonomy/detail/id/938697 / 2-1-1 or 1-800-669-3179

•  Idaho Children and Adult Mental Health Resources for all regions of Idaho / http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Default.aspx?TabId=103

•     Idaho Careline / http://211.idaho.gov/ / Dial 211 or 1-800-669-3179

 

National Resources

• The Society of the Advancement of Sexual Health/ https://www.sash.net 1-610-348-4783

–  SASH is a nonprofit organization dedicated to scholarship, training, and resources                                           for promoting sexual health and overcoming problematic sexual behaviors.

There are also groups where you can come and sit, anonymously if you prefer, and share your story with others who are experiencing the same concerns.  In Idaho, you can find a local meeting by requesting such support from the agencies recommended.

Preparing a child for potentially abusive situation begins the moment you begin communicating with your child as a “whole person” deserving to be heard and respected.  Some of the more successful tools for preparation are listed below.  Please feel free to send us your own ideas at info@buildinghopetoday.org– and be sure to look at our Family Pack on the subject of grooming and “My Child is NOT a Target”.

  • Allow your child to avoid or resist certain children or adults with whom they feel uncomfortable.  This will help them reinforce their judgment concerning other adults in other situations.  They will also feel respected by you, increasing trust.
  • Find alternate ways to talk about “good touching” and “bad touching” with your child.  (There is an interactive exercise in the Family Pack.) Sometimes if a child feels like they did something “bad,” they might avoid telling you about a harmful situation.  Instead, talk about touching as “appropriate” and “inappropriate,” or that a person who touches in this way is “not being respectful to you.”  This can lead to a healthy discussion on boundaries.
  • Teach your kids the difference between acceptable secrets, like a surprise party, and the secrets that make them feel bad inside.  This can lead to a constructive conversation about listening to their hearts… and knowing intuitively that something seems “off.”
  • Teach children their rights. When kids are taught that they are “whole people” and have the right to be safe, they will more likely view an abusive incident as exactly that.
  • Building Hope Today further recommends creating a communication pathway with your child. So when words are to big or hard, shame or fear are to big and/or don’t have words they can communicate something is wrong without the dialog. Again, in the Family Pack there is a communication pathway exercise that could viable and helpful.

 

For more parenting tips like these, visit: 
– 
http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/questions-sex.html

 http://www.pamf.org/parenting-teens/sexuality/talking-about-sex/sex-talk.html

– http://www.parenting.com/article/answers-to-kids-sex-questions

 https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/parents/tips-talking

 http://www.psy-ed.com/wpblog/sex-talk-children/

And be sure to share these concepts with fellow parents in the community!

Can I get training on how to help recognize and prevent abuse in our schools and communities?

There are several great resources for helping raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse and improve educational techniques for those working with children, including those found here on the Building Hope Today website.  Other programs include those by

 

Idaho Resources

•  Idaho Children’s Trust Fund / http://www.idahochildrenstrustfund.org/

•  Project Idaho Kids / https://www.protectidahokids.org/child-abuse-prevention-organizations/

National Resources

•  Darkness To Light / www.d2l.org

•  Laurens Kids / https://safersmarterkids.org/parents/toolkit/

•  National Sexual Violence Resource Center / https://www.nsvrc.org/projects/child-sexual-assault-prevention/preventing-child-sexual-abuse-resources

Please use these tools generously!