Consequences for Adults who have Abused a Child

Not knowing what might happen next makes it hard to reach out for help

Sometimes people who have been sexual with children are afraid to reach out for help because they don't know what might happen to them or their family. Child sexual abuse is a crime and must be dealt with through the child protection and criminal justice systems. Those who have offended can learn about what to expect from these authorities by speaking confidentially with an attorney. Families can also ask questions to a sex-specific therapist who specializes in working with adults who have acted sexually towards a child. When someone who has been abusive to a child begins conversations with a therapist they will also learn about the limits to the confidentiality they can offer.

Possible 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.

Coming forward shows responsibility

Although it can be impossible to predict the outcomes of the criminal justice system, once a legal professional or sex-specific therapist knows more about what has occurred he/she can provide information about what to expect if the person abusing were to come forward. Admitting to the harm done and accepting responsibility for his/her behavior may be considered favorably by the criminal justice system.

Adults who offend can learn to control risky or dangerous 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.