CSA FAQ by Arpan Part 7 : Intervening in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse
Intervening in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse:
Q25. If I come across a child who has been a victim of sexual abuse what should I do?
It is very important that, as an adult, you give the child a safe environment in which the child can disclose the abuse.
1. Encourage the child to talk about what he or she has experienced, but be careful not to suggest events to him/her that may not have happened – children often want to please the adult and will agree to whatever the adult has suggested.
2. Remain calm. Guard against displaying emotions that would influence the child’s sharing of the information – such as anger (the child may feel you are angry at her/him) or sadness (the child may recant because she/he doesn‘t want you to be sad because of her/him).
3. Please do not insist on the child repeating the story or probe in a way which becomes threatening/triggering to the child.
4. Please affirm to the child that it is brave of him/her to come and share and you will try and help him/her.
5. In case of ongoing abuse, the first step is to ensure that the abuse stops immediately. In such a situation you might need to involve the child’s parents/teachers/caregivers.
6. Please be honest with the child and let the child know that you will keep your talk confidential and inform only those whom you need to in order to keep the him/her safe.
7. Reassure the child that he/ she did nothing wrong.
8. Seek healing assistance for the child by involving a counsellor to support him/her.
9. Arrange for a medical examination for the child if the child has undergone contact sexual abuse. Select a medical provider who has experience in examining children, identifying sexual and physical trauma and is sensitive towards the child.
10. In case the child/the family intends to file an FIR, please seek legal assistance from an experienced legal expert.
It is always important to keep in mind that the child’s interests and needs have to be kept a priority throughout the whole process of healing and justice.
Q26. In case of incest, how can one, who is not a family member intervene and to what extent?
In case of incest, intervening by a non-family member can happen in the following ways:
1. You can get in touch with the non-offending family member and bring him/her into confidence. You must remember that it is very difficult to suspect one’s spouse or loved one of being an abuser. Therefore, you need to be understanding and patient with the non offending family member. Most non-offending parents/guardians will support the child so long as they feel supported themselves.
2. One may also seek help from organization/s working on Child Sexual Abuse in order to stop the ongoing abuse and ensure the safety of the child. There are a few organizations working in different parts of the country that provide services ranging from help lines to legal aid
3. The non-family member can also involve Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in this process. The CWC has the sole authority to deal with matters concerning children in need of care and protection; namely treatment, rehabilitation as well as restoration and social re-integration. However, once the CWC is involved it becomes the sole authority to decide about the future course of action, including the decision to shift the child from the home and declaring the family as ‘unfit’ to provide care and protection to the child. Thus, contacting the CWC is a decision that must be made after sufficient deliberation.