Detecting Sexual Abuse

Knowing perpetrator tactics, and how a child may react to those tactics, can help you detect sexual abuse. Here are some techniques abusers commonly use to scare, confuse and silence children:

  • Offenders may threaten to hurt the child, or a family member of the child, if the child tells anyone about the abuse. This is common regardless of whether the perpetrator is a family member, friend, acquaintance or stranger.
  • A child often feels that he or she is to blame for the abuse. The offender may reinforce these feelings by using guilt tactics on the child.
  • Offenders often follow up abusive incidents with treats or gifts for the child. This is very confusing, and may make the child feel guilty for accepting the gifts and/or for feeling bad about the abuse.
  • Be aware if your child talks a lot about a particular adult or older person.
  • Be aware of individuals (family members, friends, neighbors) who spend an inordinate amount of time with your child.
  • It is common for a child to deny that abuse happened, or to tell about the abuse and then recant their original statement. There is little evidence children make false allegations of abuse.