Children served at ABC Counseling & Family Services range in age from three to eighteen. Some of the children are victims of incest; others are victims of sexual abuse by perpetrators outside of the home.
Whatever the case, children react differently to sexual abuse, emotionally, and behaviorally. Some children give clear messages; others are subtle. It is our job to know what to ask, how to ask questions, and to listen to what the child has to say in a caring and compassionate way.
Below is a list of possible signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse:
Oral vaginal, anal penetration of dolls, children, animals
Forced touching of genitals
Stimulating intercourse with peers with clothing off, any genital injury, or bleeding not explained by accidental cause
If a child has been sexually abused, the most important factor in that child’s recovery is the response he or she gets from the important people in the child’s life. Even though a comprehensive evaluation and treatment are important, if a child’s experience of sexual abuse is not validated by the people he or she loves, progress in treatment is slower.
Treatment length varies from child to child, but on average, a child survivor of sexual abuse participates in counseling at ABC for 6 months to a year. Talking about sexual abuse is not an easy thing to do, and for some children this process is painstakingly slow.
Common treatment goals include the following:
Processing the abuse
Expressing feelings about the abuse and the perpetrator
Learning how to prevent future abuse
Reduction of presenting symptoms such as low self esteem, high anxiety, depression, self-harming behaviors or other negative behaviors
Learning age-appropriate sexuality, problem-solving, and assertiveness