Reporting Child Abuse

Signs of Abuse

Warning signs of abuse
• A change in a child’s behavior or school performance
• The child seems guarded and startles easily
• The child loiters at school or friends’ houses; seems reluctant to go homeSigns That a Friend Is Being Abused
• unexplained bruises, broken bones, sprains, or marks
• excessive guilt or shame for no apparent reason
• secrecy or withdrawal from friends and family
• avoidance of school or social events with excuses that don’t seem to make any senseIf a friend is being abused…
• Listen and believe him or her. Do not judge.
• He/she may feel like it’s their fault – that they “asked for it” or they don’t deserve any better. • Acknowledge that abuse is never deserved.
• Your friend needs you to help him or her understand that it is not his or her fault. Your friend is not a bad person.
• State that the person who abused him or her is at fault and needs professional help.
• He or she needs your patience, love, and understanding and support.
• Encourage him or her to get help immediately from an adult, such as a parent or guidance counselor.Cody
• Cody’s dad was a good shot. The large, powerful man would take his rifle and hold it near Cody’s head, making threats about “blasting” the little boy. Fortunately, he never did. His father made the threats because Cody tried to protect his mother. Cody’s father would violently beat Cody’s mother. When Cody tried to intervene, his father would make him stand in a corner, then aim a rifle near Cody’s head. Cody’s story is startling to hear, but here at Tennyson Center for Children it is actually a very typical life story for the children we treat. Cody’s recovery continues. As with many children, it is a long and difficult process, involving special schooling, intensive therapy, and giving structure to his life.

• For the first 10 years of her life, Carla didn’t know what love was. All she knew was getting slapped across the face, punched in the chest, or screamed at because she was “worthless.” She was seldom cared for by her mother, but usually by one or another of her mother’s live-in boyfriends. Some of the men took advantage of Carla or let their anger out on her. Even at age 10, Carla began hanging out with a group of older kids and bragged that she was in a gang. In her healing process, Carla learned to understand her inherent value and continues to stay on the right path of decency and integrity.

Part II – Getting Help for the Abused


    If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, the Dept. of Child and Family Services at (800) 252-2873

  • Each State has jurisdiction over these matters, and has specific laws and procedures for reporting and investigating.
  • In some States, all citizens are mandated reporters by State law and must report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect.
  • Childhelp® USA National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD®

Facts about Getting Help if you are abused…..

• Don’t keep it a secret! Physical, sexual abuse are crimes. So is intimidation, harrassment, terrorizing, any kind of threatening behavior, extreme and/or bizarre forms of punishment. These crimes must be reported…
• Report the abuser/perpetrator to the police. Call 911. Get to a safe environment.
• Talk to a trusted adult, teacher, counselor or pastor for support and guidance.
• Stand up for your dignity and self- respect.
• Learn skills to protect yourself from abuse.

How to protect yourself from abuse
• Do not be alone with someone you don’t feel safe with.
• Do not be alone with anyone who hurts you.
• Listen to the little voice inside when it says that what is being done to you isn’t right.
• Remember that physical and sexual abuse have negative consequences..
• Find an adult you trust and tell them what is happening.
• The adult you talk to about your abuse (perhaps a teacher or a neighbor) may want to tell the police or child protective services about the person who is hurting you. they should call DCFS at:  Illinois Department of Child and Family Services: 1-800-252-2873: for Illinois residents but they will provide other state numbers.
• If you are too nervous or scared to tell someone you know about the abuse, call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), then press 1. A Child Help USA hotline counselor can make a three-way call to include you, the hotline counselor, and the person taking the report in your area.

Sexual abuse…
Forcing or coercing someone to have sexual intercourse or to engage in any sexual activity against their will is against the law.
ACQUAINTANCE RAPE is defined as forced sexual intercourse (or other sexual acts) between two people who know each other. The relationship can be any acquaintance, including a date, teacher/student, friend, employer, etc. DATE RAPE is defined as forced sexual intercourse (or other sexual acts) that occur between a dating couple or while on a date. There are ways to minimize the risk of date rape. Here are some safety tips for self-protection.
1. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NO! You have the right to set limits and the right to not be touched against your will.
2. COMMUNICATE YOUR LIMITS CLEARLY. Don’t be afraid of being impolite. Make sure your NONVERBAL BEHAVIOR is consistent with your VERBAL behavior. NO means NO. Mean what you say and say what you mean!!
3. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation or if you feel you are being pressured into unwanted sex, you probably are. Get out of the situation as quickly as possible. Don’t be afraid about being rude.
4. STOP INAPPROPRIATE TREATMENT. Pay attention to behavior that doesn’t seem right or comfortable and to the environment around you. Avoid isolated spots. Have your own transportation.
5. WATCH ALCOHOL AND DRUG INTAKE. Alcohol and drugs interfere with clear thinking and effective communication. Remember you are not as in control if you have been using drugs or alcohol.
6. BE ASSERTIVE, FORTHRIGHT AND DEFINITE. Don’t go along with any behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable. It is better to be embarrassed than abused or raped.

Why Abuse is Under-reported
• Victims fear the consequences
• Victims don’t trust the system
• Victims feel incapacitated
• Abusers threaten the victims
• Abusers are many times family members and people victims love
• Victims do not know their rights

Healing from Abuse
• Safety and protection
• Counseling,
• Consequences for perpetrators,
• Personal and spiritual growth…
• Learn to set boundaries, stand up for self, dignity and values
• Forgives yet does not tolerate abuse

Boundaries in Relationships
• Boundaries define us – what is me and what is not me.
• Boundaries show where you end and someone else begins.
• Boundaries are limits individuals choose to set – over which others may not pass unless permission has been granted.

Purpose of Boundaries
• The goal of having and setting boundaries isn’t to build thick walls around ourselves. The purpose is to gain enough security and sense of self to get close to others without the threat of losing ourselves, smothering them, trespassing, or being “violated “or invaded. Boundaries are the key to loving relationships. M. Beattie

How to implement boundaries through Assertiveness:
• State your ideas, requests, opinions, refusals honestly and confidently… Assertiveness does not leave communication and understanding up to chance.
• Being assertive will motivate you to get reach out for help, to get to a safe place and to help protect others from abuse/threats.

© copyright 2016 by Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC