Child sexual abuse affects us all. Whether you are a survivor, a parent or loved one, or a professional seeking help for a client, support is available. Organizations around the country and locally offer helpline services, legal aid, advocacy, and counseling. You also may simply want validation that this is a devastating crime, information about the short and long-term effects of child sexual abuse, and to know that whatever you are feeling is normal. This page will guide you to the information you need for yourself or for someone else.
Together we can make a difference. Together we can heal. Together we can prevent it from happening to other children.
In Florida every individual is considered a mandated reporter of child abuse. This means that any individual suspecting the abuse of a child or a vulnerable adult is bound by law to report it. They may do so anonymously. On the other hand, professionals such as doctors (including chiropractors); nurses; hospital personnel involved in admitting, examining, caring for, or treating patients; licensed therapists and counselors; teachers and other school personnel; social workers, day care center workers, and other child care, foster care, residential, or institutional workers; law enforcement officers; and, judges must provide their identifying information when making a report. However, all reports are considered confidential, meaning that the name of the person reporting may not be released. All abuse reports must be made to the central abuse hotline. Cases over which the Department of Children and Families does not have jurisdiction (abuse by an adult other than a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare) are immediately electronically transferred to the appropriate county sheriff’s office by the central abuse hotline.
You may read Florida Statute 39.201 it its entirety here.
How to Report
TDD: 1- 8004535145
Services for Children
Child sexual abuse cases are generally handled by the Department of Health’s child protection teams (CPTs), whose role is to supplement the assessment and protective supervision activities of the Department of Children and Families. Services provided by child protection teams include diagnostic medical evaluation, medical consultation, family psychosocial interviews, and forensic interviews. In Florida, CPTs work closely with Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs), most of which are unaffiliated with FCASV’s certified sexual assault programs. A CAC is a community-based, child-focused facility where children who are victims of abuse or neglect are interviewed; receive medical exams, if necessary; therapy; and other critical services in a non-threatening and child friendly environment. A CAC brings together an array of professionals to work together on the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases. The primary goal of a CAC is to minimize the level of trauma experienced by child victims, improve prosecutions, and provide efficient and thorough provision of necessary services to the child victim and the child's family. For more information about Florida’s Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers please visit their site.
Families may also opt to engage the services of their local certified sexual assault program (sometimes referred to as a rape crisis center). To receive sexual assault services directly from a sexual assault program, discuss parental consent requirements with the program. Adolescents may also access sexual assault services via other social service agencies and/or schools depending on the relationships and Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) currently in place in communities. Helpline services are also available to all.
Pediatric Forensic Examination
The idea of having a child undergo a forensic exam can be terrifying for caregivers, particularly after what the child has already been through. A child’s physical and emotional needs differ from an adult’s. Thus, children and adolescents require the services of individuals specifically trained to provide the crisis intervention, interviewing, medical examination, and treatment that may be required as a result of acute or chronic sexual abuse. The most ideal setting for care is in a child-friendly environment rather than in an Emergency Room (ER) or police department.
In Florida, forensic interviews and examinations are performed by Child Protection Team (CPT) professionals at a Child Advocacy Center (CAC). CPTs and CACs employ multidisciplinary teams of well-trained professionals. The initial interview with the child will largely guide what happens during the physical examination. In order for an examination to be conducted, the legal guardian of the child will have to provide consent. In situations where the legal guardians are deemed unfit or are believed to have contributed to the abuse, a law enforcement officer or the Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) may provide the consent.
If you are a professional seeking more information about protocols for pediatric forensic examinations please see the Florida Department of Health’s Child Protection Team Program Handbook, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Protocol for Sexual Abuse Medical Forensic Examinations Pediatric.
Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault
A large percentage of children do not disclose abuse until adulthood, if ever. Recent studies suggest that 10% to 33% of sexual abuse victims never disclose their abuse. When they do disclose, the studies show that most child sexual abuse victims only disclose to a friend of their own age, and only about 8% of sexual abuse victims disclose the abuse to professionals.
Some long-term consequences of child sexual abuse include fear, loneliness, anxiety, self-blame, poor self-esteem, anger, and mental health issues.
Services for Survivors of CSA
All of FCASV’s certified sexual assault programs provide the full range of services to adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Call our statewide helpline to connect with your local certified sexual assault program: 1-888-956-7273. Crisis counselors and advocates are standing by to provide you with information about your options and the services available.
1in6.org: Information for and about male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The website offers education and training in local communities to raise public awareness and to help therapists and other professionals give the best possible services to men dealing with the effects of unwanted or abusive boyhood sexual experiences.
Childhelp: Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline counselors are there 365 days a year to help kids, and adults who are worried about kids they suspect are being abused. 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
Children's Bureau: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families
The Children's Bureau provides State and national data on adoption and foster care, child abuse and neglect, and child welfare. The Children's Bureau also funds research in collaboration with other organizations.
Child Welfare Information Gateway: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families The website provides numerous resources on child sexual abuse, including up-to-date statistics and research.
Florida Abuse Hotline: If you suspect that a child has been sexually abused call the Florida Abuse Hotline. Their number is 1-800-96ABUSE (962-2873).
National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: Their mission is a unified effort to promote healthy development of children and youth and end their sexual abuse and exploitation.
National Human Trafficking Hotline: national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls, texts, and live chats from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 200 languages. The National Hotline’s mission is to connect human trafficking victims and survivors to critical support and services to get help and stay safe, and to equip the anti-trafficking community with the tools to effectively combat all forms of human trafficking.
Call 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711), Text 233733, or live chat via website
Stop It Now!: Stop It Now! prevents the sexual abuse of children by mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed. The site also operates a prevention helpline 1.888.PREVENT.
Trauma Informed Care for Foster and Adoptive Parents: This web-based training offers information on trauma informed parenting for children who have been sexually abused.
Voices for Florida Open Doors Outreach Network: Voices for Florida serves as the backbone organization for the Open Doors Outreach Network. They design and promote effective systems to harness research-based knowledge in support of the treatment and care of sexually exploited children and young adults.