If you are concerned about the safety of a child, we encourage you to trust your gut feelings. Sometimes vague feelings of discomfort or the sense that “something just isn’t right” can be an indication that something less visible is occurring in the background. Please take time to explore the situation further. We have heard from many adult survivors who “pick up on” early warning signs and signals from adults and children who may be in a risky situation.
You can start by reviewing the information available here at the Online Help Center, gather your thoughts and make a plan that fits your situation. There are many steps that can be taken before a child is harmed. You don’t have to wait until there is “proof” that abuse has occurred to act. Start Over and change your answers to match the situation you are concered about and get more information.
Some survivors are able to safely re-establish relationships to the people who sexually abused them. Others choose or must maintain a distance to be or feel safe. If you feel that the person who abused you currently poses a threat to a child or teen, it is important to share your concerns with others who can be allies to you in taking steps to protect this young person.
Perhaps you are recognizing signs of risk in the child or the adult. Maybe this child is near the age when you yourself suffered abuse. We urge you to trust your intuitions and act on your instincts by speaking to other adults who can take steps to protect this child from risk or harm. If it is safe to do so, help determine who could be the best person to alert this adult to his or her worrisome behaviors.
Learn the statute of limitations in your state for reporting child sexual abuse. Filing reports about your own abuse (with the support of a counselor) can be a step to take if you believe that the same person who harmed you may have abused someone who is now a minor. If others are already concerned, your coming forward can help ease the burden of disclosure the child or teen may be facing.
If you believe that this child has already been sexually abused you can file a report directly with child protective services or the police.