You may feel afraid to reach out for help because you don't know what might happen to you or your family if you do. The fact is, child sexual abuse is a crime and must be dealt with through the child protection and criminal justice systems. You can learn about what to expect from these authorities by speaking confidentially with an attorney. You can also ask questions to a sex-specific therapist who specializes in working with adults who have acted sexually towards a child. When beginning conversations with a therapist you will also learn about the limits to the confidentiality they can offer. See also, “When must a therapist file a report?” [Not sure if link is needed here since it is in the same section?]
Holding yourself accountable for the harm that has been done may mean facing legal consequences. Orders from the court may include mandates for sex-specific treatment, residential changes, or supervision by law enforcement. Restricted access to certain individuals or age groups may also accompany a charge or conviction. Possible legal consequences may also include probation, incarceration/imprisonment, financial penalties or fines, and/or public registration.
To learn about what could happen in your specific situation, talk to someone who knows.
Although it can be impossible to predict the outcomes of the criminal justice system , once an attorney or sex-specific therapist knows more about what has occurred he/she can give you some information about what you might expect if you were to come forward, tell what you have done, and accept responsibility for your behavior.
Beginning therapy with other adults who have similar sexual problems is often the best first step -- and may be considered in an offender’s favor when there’s a legal response. By connecting to specialized help you get a chance for a new start towards a more productive life which can include relief from living a double-life, a life of secrecy and shame, a life of feeling out of control and wishing things were different.