Psychotherapy Tips

How to stop sexual abuse

How can I prevent sexual abuse?

When it comes to sexual abuse, prevention is the key. So, what can parents do to prevent child sexual abuse? Here are five tips that will help you keep your children safe. 

1. LEARN AS MUCH INFORMATION AS YOU CAN ABOUT PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE.

Learn who is most likely to commit crimes of abuse, why adults abuse children, etc. Seek out preventative information about child sexual abuse

2. LISTEN AND TALK WITH YOUR CHILDREN.

Communication is the most important principle in keeping your kids safe from sexual abuse. Create a climate in your home where kids are not afraid to share information about things they may be embarrassed or afraid about. Be willing to share what you know about sexual abuse and how to prevent it with your children. Tell your children the basics such as, ” No one has the right to touch your body without your permission.” 

3. TEACH THE 5 PERSONAL SAFETY BOUNDARY RULES.

Start early with your children (in an age appropriate way) and set clear safety boundary rules for your children. The following list gives the five personal safety boundary rules.

  • No one should look at the private parts of your body.
  • No one should ask you to look at the private parts of their body.
  • No one should touch the private parts of your body.
  • No one should ask you to touch the private parts of their body.
  • No one should show you pictures of private parts on the TV, in magazines, on the computer or on a cellphone.

4. HELPFUL TIPS WHEN TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN.

Here are some tips to help you when you talk to your child about body safety:

  • Use proper names for all their private parts. (Many children are not able to tell about the abuse because they do not know the proper words to use and tend to use nicknames for their private areas.)
  • Safety rules apply to ALL adults, not just to strangers. Emphasize that NO ONE should try to break boundary rules. 
  • Have the child repeat the phrase “My Body Belongs to Me”. At the end of the initial discussion ask the child “Who does your body belong to?” The child should be able to say “my body belongs to me.”
  • It is okay to say NO if someone tries to touch their body or do things that make them feel uncomfortable, no matter who the person.
  • They should never keep secrets about touching, no matter what the person says.
  • If someone touches them, tell and keep telling until someone listens!
  • No matter what, children need to know that if someone tries to break boundary rules, it’s not the child’s fault.
  • Let the child know that they won’t get in trouble if someone tries to break boundary rules and they come to tell you. You are a safe person they can tell. 

5. KNOW THE ADULTS AND TEENS IN YOUR CHILDREN’S LIVES.

From getting to know teachers, coaches and youth workers to interviewing potential baby sitters, you should know as much as you can about the adults and teens with whom your children spend time. Any adult that seems more interested in your children than you do should raise a cautionary flag in your mind. 

6. KEEP TABS ON YOUR KIDS.

Know where your children are and whom they are with. Make it a family rule that if your children’s plans change, they must notify you before they do something or go somewhere you don’t know about.

Delilah Rumburg

Delilah Rumburg

For more than two decades, I’ve dedicated my life to eliminating sexual violence and helping victims of abuse find help, hope and healing in the wake of tremendous trauma. I’ve cried with survivors and cheered their triumphs.

I recently retired as the Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

My time as the leader of the oldest anti-sexual violence coalition in the country provided opportunities to make a difference in so many lives.

I’ve taken part in the Task Forces on Child Protection, which worked to create recommendations to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania and traveled across the globe with the Department of Defense—including Iraq, Kuwait, South Korea, and parts of Europe—to train soldier and learn more about how our military can work better to prevent sexual abuse in the field.

More:MeToo? Guess it doesn’t apply to Big Ben (column)

We championed changes in state and federal legislation during my time that improved statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse survivors—we have more work to do there, we know– the Violence Against Women Act, which dramatically changed the approach we took in our day-to-day work from reactive to proactive and in 2014 President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault; we helped frame that work.

We launched the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which is now the largest collection of sexual violence-related resources in the world, in 2000, formed strategic partnerships with the National Football League and Uber and raised more than one million dollars to fund child sexual abuse prevention efforts through the Vision of Hope Gala & Auction.

And we collaborated with the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence to form Raliance with a bold mission to end sexual violence in one generation–the clock is ticking!

These are not solely my accomplishments. We did these things together—a dedicated and talented staff, generous donors, allies and legislators who understood the issues affecting their communities and sought meaningful change.

While the accomplishments are many, there is still work to be done. And I’m excited to see a new generation connect to the issue and re-energize our resolve to end sexual violence.

I’ve learned through my experiences that monumental moments like the one we’re in right now in the wake of the #metoo movement don’t happen often. We must take advantage.

More:York photographer: #MeToo is a conversation for us all

So I ask each of you today to carry this momentum to real, long-lasting change. York County residents, I know you will be up for the challenge. Why? Because I’ve been a member of your community for decades and I’ve seen first-hand your generosity toward sexual abuse and domestic violence-related issues.

Here are five steps to help:

  • Believe survivors when they share their story. Sounds simple. But too often victims must defend their outfit, behaviors and even the amount of time they took to come forward if they decide to share their traumatic experience at all. What we often don’t do—which we should—is hold the abuser accountable for their actions.
  • Learn about sexual violence and start conversations with friends and family. Start with the basics and work your way up. There are a lot of resources available at pcar.org and we even have an online campus with free courses!
  • Promote respect, safety and equality in your everyday actions. This can be as simple as asking a friend not to make hurtful comments or jokes about rape, teaching your kids healthy boundaries or always asking for consent with your partner.
  • Invest now in the prevention of sexual harassment and abuse. Help to create a work environment in which current employees and all those who will enter the workforce in the future can share their talents without fear of sexual harassment. If you see harassment, step in and say something. If you’re an employer, PCAR can help you train your staff and ensure that proper policies and procedures are in place.
  • Make a donation to support the work of PCAR and your local rape crisis center.  We rely on your support to invest in help, hope and healing for survivors and prevention efforts to create a future free from sexual abuse.

Together, we can end sexual violence.

Delilah Rumburg recently retired as head of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Sexual violence (SV) is a serious problem that can have lasting, harmful effects on victims and their family, friends, and communities. CDC’s goal is to stop SV from happening in the first place. The solutions are just as complex as the problem.

In order to prevent SV, we must understand and address risk and protective factors at the individual, relational, community, and societal levels.

CDC developed a resource, STOP SV: A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence pdf icon[2.85MB, 48Pages,508] to help communities take advantage of the best available evidence to prevent sexual violence. This resource is available in English and Spanish pdf icon[17MB, 48 Pages, 508] and can impact individual behaviors and the relationship, family, school, community, and societal factors that influence the risk and protective factors for violence. Many of the strategies focus on reducing the likelihood that a person will engage in sexual violence. The strategies and their corresponding approaches are listed in the table below.

STOP SV

STOP SV

Strategy

Approach

SPromote Social Norms that Protect Against Violence

  • Bystander Approaches
  • Mobilizing men and boys as allies

TTeach Skills to Prevent Sexual Violence

  • Social-emotional learning
  • Teaching healthy, safe dating and intimate relationship skills to adolescents
  • Promoting healthy sexuality
  • Empowerment-based training

OProvide Opportunities to Empower and Support Girls and Women

  • Strengthening economic supports for women and families
  • Strengthening leadership and opportunities for girls

PCreate Protective Environments

  • Improving safety and monitoring in schools
  • Establishing and consistently applying workplace policies
  • Addressing community-level risks through environmental approaches

SVSupport Victims/Survivors to Lessen Harms

  • Victim-centered services
  • Treatment for victims of SV
  • Treatment for at-risk children and families to prevent problem behavior including sex offending

Example Programs

Below are some examples of programs described in the STOP SV technical package.

See Sexual Violence Resources for more publications, data sources, and other resources about preventing sexual violence. 

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