Police AssociAtion of novA scotiA 121 ...Sexual Abuse continued Excerpt from Sexual Abuse, What Happens When You Tell A Guide for Children and Parents Other family members. Your family may not like it if another family member is the abuser and has to go to jail. Also if there is one abuser in the family there may be others. Other family members might take sides with the abuser instead of helping you. The abuser. After you have told the police you may wonder about what the abuser will do. You may worry that the abuser will try to talk to you or threaten you. This could happen. If it does, tell the police. There are things they can do to keep you safe. What happens if I have to go to court? Charges may be laid against the person who sexually abused you and if that happens you may have to go to court to answer questions (testify). When you go to court to testify it is called a trial. Trials are expensive and take a long time. Prosecutors do not like to have a trial unless they think there’s a good chance of winning. That means they need lots of evidence. When the person who has abused you has also abused a lot of other children, the prosecutor may think there is a ‘good case’. You are not responsible for what happens after charges have been laid. All you can do is tell the truth and try to speak clearly if you are asked to testify. The crown prosecutor will help you. The defense lawyer is on the abuser’s side. The judge and/or jury are in the middle and will try to decide if the abuser is really guilty or not. During the trial the person who abused you is called the accused. The accused is innocent until the judge or jury decides whether he/she is guilty. The crown prosecutor will meet with you to talk about testifying in court. If there are victim services workers in your community, they can also support you through the court process. What is the good part about going to court? It might sound as though going to court isn’t worth it. Most children who have been to court say it’s worth it, even if the abuser doesn’t go to jail. They think it’s worth it because they fi nd out that a lot of adults believe their story and are willing to spend time helping them. Another good thing about going to court is that you have a chance to learn about the legal system. A counsellor or your parents can help you prepare for going to court using books and other information. What is the worst part about going to court? Most children who have had to go to court say that waiting is the worst part, because the legal system is slow. Sometimes the trial date is put off for months, and sometimes the case is dropped. Another thing that can happen is that the judge finds the accused ‘Not Guilty.’ This doesn’t seem fair when you know what the abuser did to you. ‘Not Guilty’ doesn’t mean it didn’t happen – it just means that there wasn’t enough evidence or proof to convict the abuser in court. Is telling really worth all the trouble? Now you know that if you tell an adult that you have been sexually abused, a lot of things can happen afterwards: • You may be interviewed by a social worker and/or the police whose job is to protect children and investigate a crime. • You may see a doctor just to make sure you’re okay. • It may be helpful to talk to a counsellor whose job is to help you with whatever is bothering you. • Telling may upset some of the people in your family. • If the abuser is charged you may go to court to testify and that could take a long time. Most children who have told about being sexually abused say it’s worth it because the abuse stopped and they are not alone with the problem anymore. Most adults who are getting counselling today for sexual abuse that happened when they were children say: “I only wish I could have told someone when I was a child.” The choice is yours. No one else can decide for you, but a lot of people can help you after you’ve decided to tell. national Clearing house of Family Violence Need help right now? Call to speak to a counsellor 1-800-668-6868 Kids Help Phone 24/7