Sexual Abuse

Page Contents:

Safe Spaces. Safe Places: Creating Safe and Welcoming Environments for Traumatized LGBTQ Youth (2015) (Video)

Safe Spaces. Safe Places: Creating Welcoming and Inclusive Environments for Traumatized LGBTQ Youth (2015) (Video)
The NCTSN Child Sexual Abuse committee is pleased to announce the launch of a new video which highlights the effect of trauma on LGBTQ youth; how bias impedes optimal care, and practical steps for creating safe and welcoming environments for traumatized LGBTQ youth. The video features five LGBTQ youth describing how trauma and bias have affected their ability to feel safe when seeking services. National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) presenters discuss specific steps that professionals and organizations can take to create safer and more welcoming environments for traumatized LGBTQ youth. 

  • Video Resource Guide (2015) (PDF)
    The video introduces the viewer to the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth who have experienced trauma. You may use the video as a training tool, for example, during a staff meeting or in supervision with staff. You can show the video in its entirety or in segments. However you use this resource, be sure to allow time for discussion after viewing the video. Questions to facilitate growth, learning, and change are included in this guide.
  • LGBTQ Issues and Child Trauma (2015) (PDF)
  • Developing Clinical Competence in Working with LGBTQ Youth and Families
    In this webinar presenters outline how to work with LGBTQ youth and describe the clinical competencies needed to provide a safe space for LGTBQ youth who are dealing with trauma.

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LGBTQ Youth: Voices of Trauma, LIves of Promise (2016) (Video)

LGBTQ Youth: Voices of Trauma, Lives of Promise (2016) (Video)
It is a priority to strengthen the professional systems to support LGBTQ youth after sexual assault and other traumas that these youth commonly experience. This 13-minute video features five LGBTQ youth who discuss details of their own trauma experiences related to their respective LGBTQ identities, how they gained resilience, and how professionals helped them in this regard.

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Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse (In English & Spanish)

Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse is a consumer-focused resource kit that contains information and fact sheets for parents, caregivers, and adolescents.

The kit provides parents and caregivers with tools to help them support children who have been victims of sexual abuse, information on the importance of talking to children and youth about body safety, and guidance on how to respond when children disclose sexual abuse. Also included is advice on how to cope with the shock of intrafamilial abuse and with the emotional impact of legal involvement in sexual abuse cases.

Caring for Kids provides adolescents with information about the prevalence of acquaintance rape and tips to help reduce their risk for abuse. It also offers guidance on what to do if they are a victim of acquaintance rape including disclosure, medical attention, and professional counseling.

Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse (PDF) is available as a single large PDF file in both English and Español, and as the individual components listed below.


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Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse - An NCTSN Webinar

This online presentation addresses myths and facts regarding child sexual abuse and provides practical personal safety education for professionals to give to children and teens. Participants will also learn about adolescent acquaintance rape and responding to teens who have been victims of acquaintance rape. The presentation is archived at the NCTSN Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma.


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Q & A: Child Sexual Abuse Treatment

Questions and Answers (PDF) with Judith Cohen, MD, an expert on child sexual abuse.


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Culture and Trauma Brief (Vol3, No 1): Cultural and Family Differences in Children's Sexual Education and Knowledge

Children's knowledge about sexuality varies with developmental age and across families and cultures. This brief examines some of the factors that influence this knowledge. It also offers suggestions to clinicians on how they may work with children who have been sexually abused or who are exhibiting inappropriate sexual behavior in a way that respects those differences. Download

Culture and Trauma Brief (Vol 3, No 1) (PDF)


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The Promise of Trauma-focused Therapy for Childhood Sexual Abuse

The Promise of Trauma-focused Therapy for Childhood Sexual Abuse   was developed to provide information about the impact of child sexual abuse, to emphasize the importance of including parents/caretakers in treatment, and to highlight the need for children in therapy to learn specific skills to deal with what has happened to them and to talk about the details of their sexually abusive experiences.

This video is targeted primarily to individuals who refer sexually abused children to therapists. It is also useful for parents and caretakers of sexually abused children and therapists who treat sexually abused children.

Trauma-focused Therapy for Childhood Sexual Abuse: Talking Points

  1. Childhood sexual abuse is all too common. One in four girls and one in seven boys experience sexual abuse during childhood. Child sexual abuse crosses ethnic, racial, religious, and socioeconomic boundaries. It happens to children in every kind of family, neighborhood, and community.
  2. Many children keep sexual abuse a secret, sometimes until they become adults. Some children never tell. There are many reasons children do not tell about sexual abuse, or do not tell right away. Children may be afraid they will be blamed for the abuse, or that they will not be believed. Some children care about or have loving feelings for the abuser and do not want him or her to be punished even though they want the sexual abuse to stop. Other children have been threatened that something terrible will happen if they tell. It takes much courage to disclose sexual abuse.
  3. It may be frightening or difficult for many children when they begin to disclose the sexual abuse. Children may disclose only a little bit at a time, their stories may change, or they may take back ("recant") what they previously said happened during the abuse. Some children may even deny that the abuse has occurred at all. This is not unusual and may be confusing and frustrating for parents and caregivers. Children may be given a special type of exam to determine whether sexual abuse is likely to have occurred. This is called a "forensic exam."
  4. It is normal for parents and caregivers of children who disclose sexual abuse to feel very upset, angry, or guilty or even want not to believe that the abuse has happened. However, one of the best predictors that a sexually abused child will recover is the presence of a supportive parent or caregiver. As such, it is important to work to express support regardless of your other thoughts or feelings.
  5. There is hope for children who have experienced sexual abuse. With the right kind of help, children can recover completely and live normal and happy lives.
  6. Trauma-focused therapy is the best kind of treatment for children who have experienced sexual abuse. Trauma-focused therapy includes these elements:

    a. Building skills at the start of treatment, which will help a child deal with difficult feelings and cope with stress. The child can then use these skills for rest of his or her life to manage stressful experiences and situations.

    b. Involving the parent or caregiver in the treatment process.

    c. Encouraging the child to talk directly about the sexual abuse by developing a trauma narrative.

  7. To find out more about organizations in your area that may be part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) and that may provide trauma-focused therapy for childhood sexual abuse, go to "Finding Help". If there are no NCTSN organizations in your area, it may be useful to ask providers the following questions to determine if they offer trauma-focused therapy:

    a. Do you have experience in treating sexually abused children and their families?

    b. Do you offer treatments for sexually abused children that have been studied and have been demonstrated to be effective?

    c. Are you familiar with and have you used trauma-focused therapy with sexually abused children? 

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National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This page gathers together resources for parents, professionals, policy makers, and communities about the profound impact that sexual violence has on men, women, and children.


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Other NCTSN Resources

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