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Childhood Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse

Types of Child Sexual Abuse

  • Physical
    • Physical abuse includes any unwanted touching by an adult or older child orally, anally, or vaginally. This type of abuse entails the perpetrator forcing himself/herself on the child or forcing the child to touch the perpetrator. Common types include rape, sodomy, and molestation.
  • Visual
    • Visual sexual abuse includes forcing a child to watch pornography (movie, TV, magazine, internet), to pose naked for video/photos, or to physically watch the perpetrator’sgenitals (ie: while in the bathroom or getting dressed).
  • Auditory
    • Auditory sexual abuse includes listening to sexual acts actually happening (TV, movie, etc), hearing requests for sexual acts to be performed, hearing graphic sexual comments about one’s body, and hearing adults discuss sexual acts in detail (ie: “explicit content”).
  • Emotional
    • Emotional abuse includes behaving in a sexualized manner towards a child, putting the child in the role of a “partner”. This is commonly seen in motherswho refer to their sons as “little man” or fathers who refer to their daughter as “little mama”, and expect inappropriate age and role behaviors from the child (overly sexualized hugs, body massages, etc.)

Mandatory Reporting of CSA

  • All teachers, school officials, social service workers, day care workers, and health practitioners are mandated reporters.
    • DCRCC is also a mandated reporter of CSA, meaning that any disclosures to DCRCC hotline advocates regarding child sexual abuse, abuse of vulnerable adults or persons who are at risk to themselves or others will be reported to the appropriate authorities.
    • Mandatory reporters are required to report suspected child sexual abuse – if they do not they risk loss of employment, loss of one’s license, and even criminal prosecution.
  • The following is what must be reported to the police in the District of Columbia:
    Knowledge or reasonable suspicion of a child (under 18) whose parent, guardian, custodian, or persons in temporary care-taking roles (doctors, teachers, babysitters, etc.) inflicts or fails to take reasonable efforts to prevent an act of sexual abuse, molestation or exploitation; or a child who is in immediate danger of such abuse.

    • Link to Policy > Local DC Statutes & Codes > PDF DC CSA Reporting Requirements
  • To report suspected child abuse, please call these numbers:
    • Police Emergency: 911
    • Child/ Family Services: 202-671-SAFE (7233)
    • Children’s Hospital Child and Adolescent Protection Program: 202-884-4950
    • If you suspect that a child is being abused, and have questions about what to do next, you can call DCRCC’s 24-hour hotline at 202-333-7273 to discuss your options.

What to do If You Suspect a Child is Being Abused

  • To report child sexual abuse in the District of Columbia call 202-671-SAFE.
  • Signs & Symptoms:
    • Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is sexual contact or activity between a child and someone 4 years older or more. Even if a child seems to cooperate in the sexual activity, it is abuse because there is a power imbalance between a child and someone older.
    • Although the following symptoms are frequently indicative of child sexual abuse, they are not definitive signs that a child has been abused:
      • Having sexual knowledge or acting out sexually
      • Depression, excessive worry, fear, or over-seriousness
      • Any sudden change in mood or demeanor
      • Strained family relationships
      • Poor self-image, low self-esteem
      • Regressive behaviors like age-inappropriate thumb-sucking or bed-wetting
      • Recurrent physical complaints (e.g. “my stomach hurts”)
      • Fear or extreme dislike of a particular person or particular place
      • Venereal disease and other infections or difficulties in the genital/anal area
      • Pregnancy
  • If a child tells you that they are being abused, you should take them seriously and listen to their story. Although it’s important to respect the privacy of the child, you should file a report with the appropriate authorities as soon as possible.