As we celebrate the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, it may be a good time to talk about boundaries. While we tend to imagine people who perpetrate sexual violence against children as faceless, the truth is that most child and teen victims know their perpetrators.
According to data reported by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), of all sexual abuse cases reported to law enforcement, 93% of juvenile victims knew the perpetrator. Of the 93% of known perpetrators, 59% were acquaintances, and 34% were family members. This, of course, can be deeply disturbing to parents who want to protect their precious, vulnerable children.
A minor can obtain a restraining order
Physical, emotional and behavioral changes such as STIs, bedwetting, sudden aggression, silence, or hypersexual behavior may be clues of sexual abuse. Your child or a child in your life may even approach you to share that an adult is making them uncomfortable with their words or behaviors. Itʻs important to take these accusations seriously. If you can, help the juvenile avoid contact with the person-in-question and consider enlisting support from someone such as a local sexual assault service provider.
If the abuse or threat of abuse is significant enough, you may need to pursue legal action to ensure the childʻs well-being. One option may to file a petition for an order of protection on the minorʻs behalf.
Above all, you must focus on the childʻs safety even if it means upsetting other family members. We must be willing to have difficult conversations or set the necessary boundaries to provide a healthy, safe and appropriately loving environment for the children and teens who rely on us.