It is always an important victory when sex abuse victims bring successful civil claims or criminal charges against their perpetrators. Sex abusers should be punished and kept from hurting others, and victims deserve justice and compensation.
But even with such important victories, it is always better if abuse could have been prevented or avoided. Is there anything we can do to spot dangerous situations and potential abusers before abuse occurs?
Yes, there is.
Preventing Child Sex Abuse
Parents and other adult family members have a critical role in protecting children from occasions of sexual abuse:
- Know the warning signs: There are many signs that someone might be a sex abuser of children. A grown man who spends alone time with children, pays too much individual attention to children or gives other signs of possibly having dangerous relationships with children: These are some basic, but critical, signs.
- Avoid dangerous situations: A general rule of thumb is that your child should NEVER be left alone with an adult who isn't a parent. If you have any doubt as a parent regarding a school or sports program, certain adults or other situations that could be dangerous, avoid them for your children.
- Create an atmosphere of open discussion: Parents can, and should, talk to their children. You can teach them how to avoid dangerous situations, and help them feel confident that they can talk to you about anything.
Preventing Adult Sex Abuse
Preventing adulty sexual abuse is not all that different from preventing child sex abuse. A good deal of awareness and activeness can go a long way.
- Avoid dangerous situations: This seems obvious, but it is amazing how often instances of abuse start in dangerous places and situations. Night clubs, bars, parties, and time spent alone with someone you think might be dangerous: These are situations that you must avoid at all costs.
- Be a good friend: A good friend will help keep friends out of danger. If you see someone you care about who might be going on a date with someone you're concerned about, talk about it. If you are at a bar or club, and a dubious character is interacting with your friend, get your friend out of there quickly and safely.
- Speak up: If you are in a situation where you're concerned that you are in danger, speak up. Tell someone - a security person or a friend. When other people have awareness, they can help you. Also, if you know someone is guilty of sexual abuse, report them.
These are just a few ideas for ways to avoid and prevent sexual abuse. For people who have suffered sexual abuse, it is important to know that it is not your fault. You should talk with a lawyer to determine whether you should report the abuse and bring a legal claim.