Why does my child need a Forensic Interview?
If anything happened to your child or your child witnessed something, the environment provided by the CAC and the interviewer will be a safe place for your child to tell what happened in their words. A specially trained forensic interviewer conducts the interview, the interviewer is trained to ask questions in a non-leading way. Interviews are only conducted for CPS, DHS, Law Enforcement and occasionally the District Attorney's Office. These agencies will follow up on any investigative needs after the interview.
What did my child say in the Forensic Interview?
Because each case is handled personally and individually, normally your CPS/DHS caseworker and/or assigned Law Enforcement personnel will determine according to their investigation what information can be shared at what time. This can be frustrating at times, but each department has complex requirements that determine how each investigation is handled.
Will I be able to watch the interview of my child during or after the interview is complete?
Due to the integrity of the interview process and sensitivity of the case, no one will be permitted in the interview room during or following the interview. CPS/DHS and/or Law Enforcement personnel will be watching the interview live from an observation room. Once the recorded interview is complete, any digital copy of the interview is handed over to the investigative agency as it is their agency's property. We do not store a digital or hard copy of the interview in our facility.
What should I say to my child after the Forensic Interview?
It is very important that you do not ask your child any questions about what they said. If they share anything with you on their own, simply listen. You can listen compassionately, and non judgmentally with responses such as "I see", "yes", "i'm sure that was hard for you". Try not to react to what your child says, children are sensitive to their parents reactions. If your child talks to you and discloses information about being abused, encourage your child by telling them it is not their fault. Always share any new information learned with CPS/DHS and/or Law Enforcement.
Do we as parents need to be concerned about the validity of our child's allegation of abuse?
Children very rarely lie about abuse. Only 2-8% of allegations are false; therefore the vast majority of abuse allegations are true. It is very important to take any allegations of abuse by your child seriously and make a report to local law enforcement immediately.
How will the sexual abuse affect my child?
Children do not all react in the same ways, some predictable reactions are: early sexual activity, overall appearance of maturity, "act out" in rebellious or hostile ways, withdrawal, depression, confusion and lack of trust towards parent figures and other adults. Children may also show: eating/sleeping disorders, learning disabilities, inability to form friendships with other children, fears, low self esteem and low motivation.
How will the sexual abuse affect my other children?
Siblings will feel different from the child who was abused, perhaps distant, possibly jealous because he/she got more attention, confused and may not understand what happened. They may also feel betrayed, angry, hurt, and all of the emotions you may have felt or even those the victim felt.
Will my child need a medical exam?
In some cases involving sexual or physical abuse a medical exam may be necessary. We have a SANE on staff at our center should an exam be necessary.
Will my child need therapy?
The CAC is committed to providing each child the opportunity for treatment either on-site or off-site from therapists or counselors who have experience and training in working with abused children. These professionals can help decide how the abuse has affected your child and family and what can be done to assist you in healing from the experience.
What does it mean when a perpetrator "grooms" a child or family?
Grooming is when a perpetrator builds a relationship with a child in order to gain their trust. Grooming makes it difficult to escape the abuse and keeps the child from telling, as he/she likes the person and feels loyalty towards them. At times, power and authority can be used as grooming tactics as well. Some signs of grooming to look for are: perpetrator giving the child gifts and/or money, finding excuses for one on one time with the child, treating the child as more special than other children, viewing child when nude and/or exposing the child to nudity/pornography, excessive appropriate and/or inappropriate touching, and talking about sexual activity with a child.
My child tells me everything, why wouldn't he/she tell me about abuse?
Perpetrators manipulate children into keeping the abuse a secret. Children feel helpless to disclose the abuse due to the fact that the abuser has told them many reasons why the child shouldn't tell. Some reasons why a child might not tell: the perpetrator is a trusted friend/family member, the child feels ashamed or embarrassed, the perpetrator has threatened the child and/or the child's family, the perpetrator blames the child, the perpetrator bribes the child, the child likes his/her perpetrator and doesn't want to get them in trouble.
We didn't think therapy was necessary at time of interview, but now we think it would help. Is it too late?
It is never too late to begin therapy services for your child/family.
Will my child's case go to court?
It is possible that your child's case may go to trial. Victims and their non-offending relatives do have input on what happens to the alleged perpetrator.
When will my child's case go to court?
It can vary widely, depending on a number of factors. Some cases may be prosecuted in a year, but many cases can easily take much more time than that.
How can I help my child?
Take care of yourself and your own feelings about your child's abuse. Refrain from emotional outbursts about the abuse in front of your child. Believe your child, listen to your child and allow your child the chance to discuss feelings about the abuse and perpetrator on their own timeline. Recognize that your child may have a wide range of emotions, and reassure your child that the abuse is not their fault. Be patient with your child and yourself, healing takes time.
Did you Know?
You are not to blame for the abuse.
You are expected to protect your child and keep them away from the alleged perpetrator after you have found out about the abuse.
You are not expected to know the abuse was going on - unless disclosure was made to you and you chose not to report it.
If your child undergoes a medical exam, there may not be any physical or medical evidence of the abuse.
Sexually abused children with positive intervention (advocacy, counseling ,etc) do NOT grow up to be abusers themselves.
Your child may still need counseling no matter how well they appear to be coping with the abuse.
Your child will not be "taken away" from you because the abuse may have happened in your home without your knowledge.