As a parent, you are in the prevention business.  But no parent can prevent every bad thing that happens.  What do you do if your child has been sexually assaulted?  Now is not the time to blame yourself.  Now is the time to take action to help your child.  

1.   Get Immediate Medical Treatment.  

The first next you need to do is get immediate medical treatment for your child.  Take your child to an emergency care facility and tell the staff what has happened.  Before going, make sure the facility has the ability to perform a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exam on a child.  You may want to focus on a children’s hospital in order to find trained staff that can perform such an examination on a child.     

2.  Call the Police and Child Abuse Hotline

Call the police and call your state’s child abuse hotline.  It is important for law enforcement to begin an investigation as soon as possible.  If you take your child to a medical facility for a SANE exam, the staff at the facility will make those calls (or at least the call to the child abuse hotline).  

3.  Mental Health Counseling for Your Child

The first help your child needs is physical medical treatment.  But do not delay in getting mental health counseling for your child.  The psychological damage from sexual assault is a bomb with a slow fuse.  Even if you do not see immediate effects, your child will need to talk to someone who specializes in treating victims of sexual assault.  Most of the time, the medical facility that performed the SANE exam can provide names of mental health professionals.   

4.  Mental Health Counseling for You

You are going to be the strong presence, the emotional stability for your child.  Do not underestimate how the sexual assault against your child will psychologically damage you.  After the immediate danger is past, you will start to question how this could have occurred.  You should expect that this examination is going to involve self-blame.  How could I have not seen this coming?  What warning signs did I miss?  You have now become a victim as well because you will start to blame yourself.  You must get mental health counseling for yourself to stop the emotional descent.  Your family is going to need to come together.  But without professional health, your anger can be directed in the wrong direction.  

Chris Dove
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Child Sexual Assault Attorney Practicing Nationwide