What does the typical child abuse perpetrator look like?

There is not a typical profile of a perpetrator and you cannot pick out a sex offender in a crowd. In 90 percent of child abuse and sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator is someone the child knows and trusts. Offenders come from all classes, races and religious backgrounds. Unfortunately, the greatest risk factor of being a victim of child sexual abuse is simply being a child.

If I suspect abuse, where can I go for help?

If your child or a child in your life discloses sexual abuse, remember to tell the child that it is not their fault, that you believe them and that it is important that you tell other trusted adults to get them help. Reporting and getting help from trained service providers is critical to healing. As difficult as it may be, refrain from showing anger toward the perpetrator, as this is likely someone the victim knows and trusts.

Call your local law enforcement authorities immediately and your local Child Protective Service Provider. Find help locally here.

What if I suspect sexual abuse, but I am not sure?

It is every person’s moral responsibility to report suspected abuse – and every Floridian’s legal obligation. It is not your job to know for sure, not your job to investigate, but rather to protect the children in your life by reporting any suspicious behavior or something that you feel is just not quite right. For more information on the signs of abuse and ANONYMOUS reporting of abuse, visit www.dontmissthesigns.org.

How can I lower my child’s or any child’s risk of sexual assault?

95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness, meaning the most effective prevention happens before a child is harmed. Children are safer when parents and caregivers take the time to teach preventative tactics to their children and become educated about the warning signs of abuse. Parents and caregivers who make a commitment to speak up as soon as they have a concern play a crucial role in a child’s safety. For more information on prevention, visit safersmarterkids.org.

I do not want to talk to my children about sexual abuse because I do not want to frighten them. Is this the right thing to do?

It is helpful for parents to keep in mind that you play a pivotal role in preventing child abuse. You can use our parent tool kit to help facilitate the conversation between you and your child. The kit provides helpful tips to help you speak with your children about abuse without being overt or threatening in any way.

How can children ever recover from such an experience?

Healing is possible through loving support. It takes time, but a supportive family response and professional intervention can help heal victims and their families heal into thriving survivors. Click here to visit our resources page.