While it can be a terrifying experience, knowing what to do if your child discloses sexual abuse can help protect your child and hold her abuser responsible. The following is a list of the first things you must do:
Call the police and report the abuse
Ensure your child’s protection from the abuser
Order a medical exam
Call a lawyer you trust
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) recommends that you remain calm if your child comes to you and discloses abuse. Your response can affect how your child deals with this trauma.
Talk to your son or daughter about the incident(s) and believe what s/he tells you. Most importantly, tell your child that you will protect him/her and ensure his/her safety. Get your child away from the abuser (e.g., change daycares or schools, get a restraining order, etc.) and call the police or the ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-422-4453.
Contact a doctor immediately. Order a medical exam to ensure your child did not suffer any injuries or contract any diseases. Reassure your child that you love him/her and that you will keep him/her safe.
Finally, it is imperative that you contact a sexual abuse lawyer immediately. The police and medical professionals will likely require you to make a statement. Your lawyer can protect your and your child’s legal rights and ensure that you do not say or do anything to compromise your legal rights to hold the abuser responsible for the harm s/he inflicted on your son or daughter.
What Are Your Legal Obligations and Rights if Your Child Discloses Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is a crime under Florida law. The statutes also dictate that anyone who learns of abuse must alert the proper authorities. Failing to do so could result in the state removing your child from the home.
Once you alert the authorities about the abuse your child has disclosed, it is critical that you contact a child sexual abuse lawyer to protect your family’s legal rights.
Depending on the circumstances under which the abuse occurred, you may need to provide a statement or sign documents. You should never provide a statement or sign anything without consulting your attorney.
Why Should I File a Child Sexual Abuse Claim?
Obviously, no amount of money will ever change what happened to your son or daughter. However, sexual abuse can leave children with significant emotional and physical damage that requires professional attention — potentially for many years to come.
By pursuing a legal settlement from the abuser, you can take care of any necessary treatment. It will also hold the guilty party responsible, and help to ensure that no other child suffers a similar fate.
The value of your child’s sexual abuse claim depends on the specific factors of the case. Your lawyer can assemble the necessary documentation to document your case. This may involve obtaining records from or consulting with your child’s doctors, counselors, child psychologists, and other medical experts.
Your claim will include all medical expenses you have incurred to date, as well as any associated expenses. Your lawyer will also consult with sex abuse experts to determine the type and extent of care your son or daughter will need in the future.
If your child sustained any long-term or permanent damage, your lawyer will include the value of those injuries in your claim, as well as pain and suffering.
How Does Sexual Abuse Affect Children?
Although each case and each child is unique, some conditions commonly correlate with abuse. These include depression and anxiety, diminished self-esteem, feelings of guilt, fearfulness, emotional withdrawal, and failing performance in school.
Later in life, abused children may struggle to form emotional bonds with others. Dysfunctional emotional relationships are common, as are substance abuse disorders, suicide, and mental illness. In many cases, abused children become abusers themselves.
These are just a few of the reasons why it is imperative that you obtain the professional treatment your child needs.
How Can a Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer Help Your Family?
A child sexual abuse lawyer can help you get your child the treatment s/he needs, while protecting his/her legal rights and building a strong case against the abuser. If the abuse happened at any of the following places, we may be able to hold the entity liable for failing to keep your child safe:
This highly sensitive issue can cause even more stress or anxiety for your child, if s/he must provide a statement or testimony. A compassionate attorney can help you and your child through this challenging time while protecting him/her against any further emotional damage.
Your lawyer can explain your options, answer your questions, and help you make the right decision for your child’s future well-being. In Florida, the attorneys of Edwards Pottinger LLC provide caring and responsive representation for children victimized by sexual abuse.
Contact us today at 954-524-2820 to schedule a complimentary consultation and case review, or to speak to a Florida child sexual abuse lawyer.