The sexual assault of a child can happen at any age and can compromise a broad range of intrusive and inappropriate sexual engagement of a child, often by a known and trusted person. It can involve both contact and/or non-contact activities with a child that is of a sexual nature.
The effects of child sexual abuse can include mental health impacts and adjustment in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Factors which can affect the nature of impacts include the child’s age at the time of abuse, the child’s gender, the form, duration and severity of the abuse, the relationship with the perpetrator and the betrayal of trust.
Children face many barriers to disclosing child sexual assault. Often the perpetrator is someone the child and other family members trust and it can also be someone who is related to or cares for the child.
Perpetrators of child sexual assault will commonly force compliance and coerce the child in engaging in sexual activity through the use of non-sexual touch followed by progressively more intrusive acts over a period of time. Tricks, bribes, promises and threats are often used by offenders to manipulate children into keeping ‘the secret’.
Systematic and Organised Abuse of Children
In some cases, child sexual assault happens in the context of severe systematic abuse over a long period of time. Unfortunately there are some children who are abused by a number of perpetrators and sometimes these perpetrators can be both male and female. In situations where systematic abuse is happening to a child or children, the abuse may take place at a specific times, at particular events, within an institutional structure and may be based on a belief system which is used by perpetrators to justify the behavior.
Systematic abuse may not only involve multiple forms of sexual abuse, it may also involve neglect and others forms of abuse, such as physical, emotional and psychological abuse. Sometimes organized sexual assault may occur in what is known as a ‘pedophile ring’ or in other groups. These groups can be local, national or international.
Children who have been subjected to systematic or organized abuse need support as soon as individuals or services become aware of the abuse, which may or may not come from the child’s own disclosure. If you suspect a child is being subjected to organized abuse or any other type of neglect or abuse, it is important that you report your concern as soon as possible so the concerns can be investigated.
Please contact the police or Care and Protection on the umbers listed under other Useful Contacts. You can also phone CRCC and we can assist you to make the report or make the report on your behalf.
Children who disclose being sexually abused have often overcome many barriers to make their disclosure and it important that they are responded to appropriately, that their safety is prioritised and that they get support as soon as possible. With support, children who have been sexually abused can heal. Here at CRCC we have supported many children and non-offending parents, and through support children can process their experiences and achieve better outcomes.
In all emergencies phone the police on 000.
Phone the Rape Crisis Centre any time on (02) 6247 2525.