Police AssociAtion of novA scotiA 119 continued... ...Sexual Abuse continued Excerpt from Sexual Abuse, What Happens When You Tell A Guide for Children and Parents The interview may go something like this: The social worker will ask you to tell the story in your own words. The social worker will ask you to talk only about things you know – not what someone else told you to say. If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say, “I don’t know.” If there’s something you don’t remember, just say, “I don’t remember.” Sometimes you think you have to have an answer for every question. Answering a social worker’s questions isn’t like an exam. You don’t have to have an answer for everything and there is no right or wrong answer. If you feel afraid to answer questions, the social worker may ask you what you’re afraid of. This question is important because the abuser may have said that something bad would happen if you told. The social worker can reassure you that you were right to tell and that you don’t have to be afraid anymore. At the end of the interview the social worker may ask you if you know about any other children who were sexually abused by the same person. The social worker may also ask if anyone else has ever abused you. The law says that social services must protect you if you need it. Here’s an example: 11 year old Michelle was sexually abused by her 15 year old foster brother, Marco. The police charged Marco with the abuse, but it was four months before he would go to court. Social services wanted to be sure that nothing else happened to Michelle in the meantime, so they placed Marco in a group home with other teenagers. He stayed there until a social worker said he could go home. Michelle was sad because she missed Marco, but she felt much better when she knew that he was going to get some counselling. Do you remember Lucy’s story? Lucy’s mother was protecting her by keeping her stepfather out of the house. That meant she didn’t need social services to protect her. Do you remember Carla’s story? Carla’s mother put her boyfriend first and didn’t protect Carla. Social Services placed Carla in a foster home until her mother learned how to look after her better. The social worker may also arrange for you to have a medical examination either at your family doctor’s office or at a hospital. Most children are not physically hurt by sexual abuse unless the abuser has penetrated (pushed his penis or an object into the vagina or the bum). The social worker will want to be sure you are okay. The social worker may also arrange for you to see a counsellor. The counsellor will be trained to work with children who have experienced sexual abuse and will be seeing other children like you. If you have been sexually abused you might feel guilty about it even though it wasn’t your fault. The counsellor will help you understand your bad feelings, and to understand other mixed-up feelings. The counsellor can also help you understand what happens in court if you are asked to testify (tell a judge your story in court). What will the police do? The police will want to interview you if you’ve told someone that you have been sexually abused. This is because sexual abuse is a crime, and the job of the police is to catch criminals. The police understand that it can be frightening for you to be questioned. Sometimes they may interview you when you’re with the social worker. Sometimes the police can’t do the interview with the social worker. Often they will try to fi nd the right offi cer to interview you. Most cities have at least one police officer who is especially good at talking to children.The police want to find out if there is enough evidence to charge the abuser with a sexual offence. The police may make a recording of their interview with you. This process makes sure there is a good record of what you’ve said in case you forget. It might even be used in court if the abuser is charged. After your interview, the police will give the information to the Crown Prosecutor. The prosecutor is a lawyer for the state, who is on your side if you have to go to court. The job of prosecutors is to look at the evidence you have given the police. If there’s enough, they or the police may decide to lay charges against the person who abused you. This means that the person who abused you will have to go to court to answer the charges. What will other people do when I tell? Your parents. Parents can be angry and sad, and have mixed feelings just like you do. Sometimes they have problems of their own that will make it hard for them to help you. Most parents want to help and will try to do their best.If your parents don’t believe you; are mad because you told; blame you or tell you to forget it; or drink or take drugs a lot, you may have to get help from someone else. Brothers and sisters. Your brothers and sisters will help you most of the time, but it can be hard for them too. Sometimes an older sister or brother will feel ashamed if a younger sister or brother has been sexually abused. They may think they should have been able to protect you. If your brother or sister was also abused, they may have confused feelings just like you. If the abuser is a family member, he may have abused only you. If that person bought you special gifts, your brothers and sisters might be jealous of you. national Clearing house of Family Violence