Sexual abusers often “groom” their victims by giving gifts, attention, and/or special privileges. This grooming process insures continued access and secrecy with the victim. The abuser may also be a close friend, member of the family, or someone else that the victim loves or looks up to.
Caregivers of victims also have a variety of emotions following a disclosure of abuse. Common emotions experienced by caregivers are guilt, sadness, shock, anger, and even depression. If the abuser is also a caregiver, there may be worries about housing and economic issues that must be considered. Although the caregiver’s emotions may be strong, it is important that the child believes that the caregiver can handle the disclosure or the results. The child, if he/she feels that the emotions created by the disclosure are too intense, may withdraw thinking that this will lessen the strain on the caregiver. It is vital that the caregiver speak to another competent adult, NOT the child, about their complex and strong feelings. It may be helpful for the parent to seek treatment with a counselor who is experienced in working with the families of victims.
Caregivers also must separate their own emotions from those of the victim. Caregivers can help the victim express his/her own feelings about the abuse. This can be especially difficult for caregivers who experienced abuse themselves as a child. Watching a loved one go through abuse may bring up old emotions. It is important that the caregiver resolves these feelings with a competent adult or counselor and NOT the child.
Support groups with other caregivers of victims can also be very helpful during this time. Information on groups is available at your local children’s advocacy center.
No. Because of age, size and/or the nature of the relationship, adults have power and authority over children. Children, therefore, do not have the maturity to equally consent to a sexual act with an adult or much older child. Each state has laws that define the legal age at which a child can consent to a sexual activity.
Sexual abuse can take on many forms such as fondling, penetration, exposure of private parts, participation and/or viewing of pornography, and communicating with a child in a sexualized manner. All forms are serious and must be addressed by law enforcement, child protective services, and/or medical professionals.
Sex offenders are required to register with law enforcement when they move or after their release from prison/jail. A list of sex offenders registered in Kentucky can be accessed via the internet at kspsor.state.ky.us. This information can be obtained by calling toll free 1-866-564-5652. At this number, an individual can register up to 3 zip codes to monitor and a phone number. When a registered sex offender moves into and/or within that three zip code area, the Kentucky State Police willnotify the phone number provided.
Although the registration, phone notification, and website system is helpful, it is not 100% accurate. Even though there is a punishment if a convicted sex offender does not register, some offenders do not register. Also, some offenders “plead out” of their cases and therefore may not have to register, if their plea agreement does not include a registerable offense. Persons convicted of sex crimes before July 15, 1994 are not required to register for those crimes. Offenders who are not reported, charged, and convicted are not required to register.