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If a child has said they have been inappropriately touched should you ask the perpetrator about it?

A dirty secret – Who do you tell?

Amazingly, the title of this post was actually a search term used to get to my blog site. I only wish I could personally speak to the person who was conducting that search, but will hope that somehow they will find this message and get some of the answers they need—timely.

 Let me open with this: As a survivor of child molestation and drawing from what I have learned through seminars and speaking with other adult survivors of molestation, DO NOT ASK THE PERPETRATOR ABOUT IT! First of all, the chances of them admitting their guilt are as likely as me running the Boston Marathon (it isn’t gonna happen—ever!). It is okay to discuss it with your child, but you simply must do it with extreme caution and care. The hardest part of it all may be containing your own emotions, but you must. It is extremely important to hold yourself in check. Going postal may only relay to the child they have upset you, causing them to feel guilty and then, in turn, shut down. Drawing from my own past, let me share the biggest concerns that come to mind for me:

 As much as a parent wants to protect his/her child, if it is familial-related molestation, there is the possibility of blowing up the entire family. It does not mean a person is a bad parent when they feel torn in two totally separate directions. They want to protect their child, but they want to protect their family. Oftentimes it is one of their children, or even the other parent perpetrating the abuse upon another of their children. How does anyone handle such a situation, yet retain their sanity and composure?

 There is a certain amount of fear related to drawing law enforcement into the mix. What if DCFS becomes involved, comes in and takes the child into protective custody? What if they get lost in the system? 

 My strongest suggestion is first and foremost to put distance between the child and the purported molester. Then, immediately take them to a professional, whether it is your pastor (or other spiritual counselor), a mental health counselor or child psychologist . . . anyone specially trained to deal with sexually traumatized children. If there is any scintilla of cause to think sexual abuse has taken place, they are obligated to report. For some, that kills two birds with one stone. The child is immediately protected, and the reporting is initiated by a third party, not you. Then you concentrate on being there as support and reinforcement for the victim. But, do not be surprised if you need a bit of counseling yourself, and don’t hesitate to get it.

 I am convinced the best website on the subject of recognizing signs of child molestation is RAINN. I am sharing some of the facts from their site here, and I give credit to RAINN for a job well done in providing information about talking to your children in this regard. I hope you will go to both these links to gather more valuable information. I also strongly encourage you to consider making a donation while you are there.

About Carolyn S. Hennecy

Carolyn S. Hennecy - a/k/a southern blonde traveling with sense of humor and a passion for cheesecake, known to be heard several times a day declaring, "JUST PEACHY!" Advocate for domestic violence awareness; member of Sexual Violence Task Force of Tampa Bay Speakers Bureau; spokesperson for American Heart Association; motivational and inspirational speaker; Author of ORANGE BLOSSOM WISHES: Child Molested, Woman Abused - Her Victorious Journey to Freedom (Carolyn's memoirs), she will be featured on the ABC Action News (WFTS Tampa) Emmy award winning primetime special "Taking Action Against Domestic Violence" scheduled to air Friday, October 14, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.


One thought on “If a child has said they have been inappropriately touched should you ask the perpetrator about it?

  1. This is probably one of the touchiest matters in the world today. Desperately seeking a safe, sane resolution, knowing if it is factual, a young innocent child has probably been emotionally and quite possibly physically scarred for life is hard to deal with.

    Posted by Carolyn S. Hennecy | August 31, 2011, 8:06 pm

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August 2011

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