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How to talk to kids about sexual abuse, and how you can help prevent it

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One of my clients came into my office one day for a last-minute appointment and he sounded anxious. I had been working with him as his psychotherapist for several months and we had just started to delve into some deeper issues as our therapeutic bond became stronger. It was in that session, for the first time in his life, at age 29, that he told me about multiple acts of sexual abuse that he endured when he was 4 years old, by someone he knew very well.

Therapists come to care about their clients, and the thought of him experiencing that, and keeping it silent for so long, upset me. This story particularly struck me because my son had just turned 4. The day before my client disclosed this abuse, I had been sitting outside at my son’s school with some of the other parents, watching the kids play with a joyful, carefree innocence. As my client told me his story, it was all too easy to picture exactly where he was when this happened to him.

He was not the first client to, as an adult in my office, disclose past sexual abuse for the first time. Adult women have confided in me about sexual abuse and rape in high school and college, and I’ve had clients who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by childhood sexual abuse. Although accurate child-abuse statistics are somewhat elusive because so much is not reported, RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, has said that one in nine girls and one in 53 boys under 18 will be the victim of sexual abuse by an adult. This is a topic that needs to be addressed and discussed with children in a frank and open way.


1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

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