(Here is the place to put a graphic picture of sexual abuse; but that might be considered child pornography.)
I am talking about the abuser, not the victim. The chances are extremely high they will offend again and probably had committed other offenses before they got caught. Also offenses tend to escalate over time as it takes more and more of a thrill to “get off”. Some people protect and support offenders because they think they deserve a chance and they would like to believe that the offenders have reformed.
It takes extreme vigilance to protect potential victims from these offenders. You and any other responsible adult who know about the offender should attempt to shadow the offender and keep them from being alone with potential victims. To do this, you have to think like an offender.
The sexual abuse often reflects the offenders’ full time commitment to getting access to potential victims and to collect information that would help them do this. A sexual offender never says to a responsible caretaker I will watch your child for you while you go to the grocery store and while you are there, I will get your child to undress and play a “fun” game with me from which I will get sexual pleasure.
Should you believe me? Yes! I have conducted interviews with many victims of sexual abuse, often by play therapy and by using drawings, One thing I have been careful not to do is implant an idea in a child’s mind where one didn’t exist and to try not to commit further trauma. The child may be frightened and somehow feel guilty. These are ways that the abuser knows to keep the victim from talking about the abuse with anyone.
When abuse occurs, children do many things in an attempt to help them handle it. They may learn not to trust their feelings and/or intuition. They might put a lot of it out of their mind as it is too hot to handle. But the unconscious usually retains the memories of sexual abuse somewhere and also the feelings associated with it. It is like a splinter. It may hurt a little if you leave it alone but it might hurt a lot when you take it out. Then the pain can go away.
Possible consequences of sexual abuse are confusion about sexual identity, decreased or even absent libido, and a sense of inferiority that never goes away. Don’t wait for someone else to do something about it! The sexual abuser counts on this.