The Tulare County District Attorney's Office has an informational brochure for Parents and Guardians of children who have suffered sexual abuse. It helps the parents learn to assist the children in moving forward after such traumatic events so early in life.
The most important part is letting the children know that they are not alone. Contrary to popular belief, child sexual abuse is to a rare occurrence. It is not confined to any one social class, ethic group, or religious background. It can happen to any family, and it happens more than we would like to think it does.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is defined as acts of sexual assault or sexual exploitation of a minor. Sexual abuse encompasses a broad spectrum of behavior and may consist of many acts over long periods of time or a single incident.
Sexual abuse Includes:
Exposing a child to pornographic materials or adult sexual activity
Having a child pose, undress or perform in a sexual fashion
Peeping into the bedrooms or bathrooms
Rape or attempted rape
Victims range in age from less than one year through adolescence.
Who are the perpetrators?
Most children are abused by someone they know and trust.
An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, childcare providers, neighbors.
About 30% of perpetrators are family members, e.g., fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins.
What are you feeling?
One of the most typical feelings is loneliness. The feeling that your situation is one in a million; that this does not happen to other people; that no one will understand, no one will be able to help, and that no one will want anything further to do with your or your family.
Towards the offender for what they have done to your child;
Towards the child, for letting the offender abuse them (even though you know that the child is not responsible);
Towards the child for telling you about the abuse, thus leaving you to worry as to what to do about the child, the family, the offender, and yourself (even though you know the child did the right thing).
That someone you trusted could do this to your child;
That your child has had to experience this abuse;
That your child perhaps told someone other than yourself first (I.e. a teacher, a friend, or parents of a friend).
Desperation and Confusion:
As to what to do now - for the child, for yourself, for the family.
Should you confront the offender?
Who do you tell?
Where should you go?
Where do you start?
That you have somehow failed as a parent, as a person.
These feelings are common among parents of children who are sexually abused. You may ask yourself, "How did I not know?" Sexual abuse offenders are opportunists and often take advantage of parents' trust or time along with a child.
Why did the child not tell me?
Children will not tell because they were afraid. They are afraid that no one will believe them (many abusers tell this to children). They don't tell because of the guilty they might experience fi they get an adult "in trouble." Sexually abused children could have been bribed or threatened by the offender, and would be afraid that the threats would e carried out (e.g. "if you tell I will go to jail, it will ruin the family", and so on). Children are tought to be obedient. The y would be frightened to speak about the "secret"because of the feelings of guilty they will experience. This guilty may surround the abusive relationship itself and telling someone about it.
What is your child feeling?
Your child may be experiencing feelings :
That the offender carried out these action because the child was bad, or was somehow deserving of the abuse;
That they should not have let it happen (didn't we talk aobut "good touches" and "bad touches" in school? I should have known what to do)/
That whatever happens within the family now (tension, aruments) is their fault because the ytold sonmeone about hte secret.
That now that they have told someone, the offender will somehow retaliate hurt them or someone else in the family or close to them);
That the family and those outside the family will not believe them, and will not like or care for him/her any longer;
That hey will be sent away;
That mom/dad will become very sick;
That they will e blamed;
That mom and dad will be very angry with them.
That the offender has betrayed the child's trust;
That mom and dad should ave known, and put a stop to it.
Children who experience sexual abuse require constant reassurance that they are not to be blamed for what happened, that the y are loved, and will be protected from further abuse.
What do you do now?
It is the utmost importance that you let your children know that you believe them, and that it it right to come forward about the "secret." Your child will require a great deal of reassurance at this time. his might be extremely difficult for you, due to the mixed emotions you may be experiencing.
It is not advisable to confront the offender. Handling the situation in this manner may also magnify the child's guilt.
The problem will not go away on its own. Counseling is available for the victims of sexual abuse, their siblings, and parents - all of which should be strongly considered. With counseling, love and understanding, your child will be more able to deal with the trauma, and this will give way to a better outlook.
End of Brochure Information:
Note from Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney regarding sexual abuse allegations and defending them. It is brochures and a general theme in society today, that any allegation is to be treated as true. This leaves a person wrongfully accused by a child, adolescent, teenager, or other individual in the unfortunate position of having a society that is preconditioned to believe the accusation rather look at the situation objectively and try to determine if the accusation is is true.
Defending an allegation of sexual abuse requires that the accused and the defense meet these challenges, over come the preconditioning of society to believe any accusation, and at times show fault with the alleged victim's motives and accusation. Children can be manipulated by parents, family, and friends to levy untruthful allegations. Motives for untruthful allegations can range from living situation, location, or disagreement with parents to simply wanting attention. Divorced parents are known to use the children in a fight with the ex spouse, and can coach children to make dishonest allegations.
The best known case is the McMartin Pre-School molestation case. The case was the most expensive and longest case in American History. It included the allegations of tunnels, flying witches, hot air balloon rides, and satanic rituals. The case began when a paranoid schizophrenic mother of a child who claimed to have a painful bowel movement levied accusations of violence, sexual abuse, and of an employee being able to fly unassisted by technology, using the powers of witchcraft.
Following a form letter asking 200 other children, via their parents, if their children may have been molested at the preschool, more complaints occurred. Using highly suggestive interviewing techniques, it was claimed that 360 children had been abused. 41 of the original 360 children testified in pre trial hearings, with less than a dozen testifying in the trials. The techniques were so suggestive, that juries found the testimony lacked credibility. One of the children actual identified a picture of Chuck Norris and claimed he was one of the abusers. Evidence of the mother's mental illness was withheld from the defense for three years.
A key prosecution witness was a jail house informant, who latter tried to flee the country and confessed to perjury in a series of other cases in exchange for favorable treatment by the prosecution including immunity on some of his previous charges.
The secret tunnels allegations continued for many years. Ground penetrating sonar showed some disturbance, and was heralded as corroborating the children's stories. However, it was later found that only the sewer pipe under the undisturbed concrete slab had caused any disturbance since the building was built. The slab was poured in, and the rubbish fill beneath the slab was dated to the 1940's, long before the school was built in in 1966.
A book The Devil in the Nursery states,
When you once believe something that now strikes you as absurd, even unhinged, it can be almost impossible to summon that feeling of credulity again. Maybe that is why it is easier for most of us to forget, rather than try and explain, the Satanic-abuse scare that gripped this country in the early 90's -- the myth that the Devil-Worshipers had set up shop in our day-care centers, where their clever adepts were raping and sodomizing children, practicing ritual sacrifice, shedding their clothes, drinking blood and eating feces, all unnoticed by parents, neighbors, and the authorities.
We must be careful not to become a country that believes the little boy who cries wolf, and forgets to allow a wrongfully accused the benefit of having heard the evidence, before convicting them in the court of public opinion. The McMartin case isn't an isolated or obscure example of wrongful accusations, it was the largest, longest, and most expensive example in the history of the United States. Witnesses later told of being coerced, and telling lies to keep other people happy with them. In the end, not a single accusation led to a conviction. It is known in history as mass listeria leading to false accusations, that ruined innocent peoples lives.