What Could Happen to Me If I've Crossed the Line?

Not knowing what might happen to you makes it hard to ask for help

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 of a sexual behavior-specific therapist who specializes in working with adults who have acted sexually towards a child, and you can also learn about the limits of the confidentiality they can offer.

Possible legal consequences

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, mandated treatment, and/or public registration.

To learn about what could happen in your specific situation, talk to someone such as a legal advocate or attorney. Therapists can also help with information about what to expect from the legal system to your personal situation. 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, they 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.

Taking responsibility for your behavior is the best first step

Beginning therapy with a specialized professional who works with adults with sexual behaviors that are harmful and abusive is often the best first step -- and may be considered in an individual’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 and fulfilling future which can include relief from living a double-life, a life of secrecy and shame, a life of feeling out of control and of wishing things were different. You have the power to take this step towards being accountable and safe - and you don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out to our Helpline for support and resources.