Sadly, child abuse can occur to any child no matter the child’s ethnicity, socioeconomic level, or religion. While you may not think your child could be a victim of abuse because you have a good home and great family, child abuse can still occur outside of the home. Because of this, here are some things you should know about the child sexual-abuse process and the perpetrators that prey on innocent children.
The majority of sexual predators that target children usually know the child in some way. The sex offender usually starts off by targeting children who are more isolated, have lower self-confidence, and are emotionally needy. Once chosen, the predator begins a gradual, calculated process to groom that child. “Grooming is the process by which an offender draws a victim into a sexual relationship and maintains that relationship in secrecy,” said Dr. Michael Welner, who was cited on oprah.com about the six stages of grooming.
The five other steps of child sexual abuse following the initial “targeting the victim” step include:
- Getting the child to trust him or her – the sex offender will try to get to know the child’s needs so he or she can know how to fill them.
- Filling the child’s needs – the sex offender meets the child’s needs by connecting with him or her, giving extra attention to the child, or by giving money and gifts.
- Isolating the child – when a sex offender creates ways to be alone with the child, it creates isolation and starts to develop a relationship.
- Sexualizing the relationship – when an offender gets to this stage, he or she will try to desensitize the child through talks, taking pictures, exposing oneself, or taking opportunities to be naked (like going swimming). At this point, the adult uses stimulation to advance the abusive relationship.
- Keeping control over the child – when an adult is sexually abusing a child, he or she will likely use blame, threats and control to keep a child silent in order to keep the child involved in the abusive relationship.
These stages begin subtle and allow a predator to trick a child into sexual abuse. Sadly, sexual abuse occurs more often than people realize:
- This nation has over 39 million survivors of sexual abuse.
- Approximately 70% of reported sexual assaults are to children age 17 and younger.
- About 20% of sexual abuse victims are age eight and younger.
If you believe your child is a victim of sexual abuse in Florida, there is help. Call the local authorities and call the Mallard Law Firm today at 888-409-3805 to talk with a caring and experienced Sarasota child injury lawyer in a free case consultation today and learn how to protect your family.