- If I find out my child was sexually abused by a teacher or by a doctor or counselor, what should I do?
- What if sexual abuse was committed by someone in my church?
- When should I go to the police?
- Is there someone who can help my child?
- Are there organizations that help victims of crime?
- Are there organizations that help survivors of sex abuse?
- What if I report sex abuse, and the institution tells me they are ‘taking care of it’?
- When should I get a lawyer?
- Will I have to pay to see a lawyer in a sex abuse case?
- Are there civil remedies for sexual abuse?
If I find out my child was sexually abused by a teacher or by a doctor or counselor, what should I do?
If you have reason to believe that your child was sexually abused by a teacher, a doctor, or other professional, you should contact law enforcement. Child sexual abuse is a serious crime. Law enforcement officers are specially trained to be sensitive with children in investigating these cases.
No matter where sexual abuse was committed, it is a crime. Responsible churches take pains to protect their members from sexual predators. If your church is asking you to cover up a crime, think very carefully about whether this is the decision you want to make. Is your religious institution more concerned about protecting its brand or is it concerned with the health and well-being of you and your family?
The time to go to law enforcement is when you suspect that a crime has occurred. This can happen when someone commits sexual abuse, or covers it up. You have a particular responsibility to report sexual abuse committed against a minor child. If you do not know whether you should contact law enforcement about a crime committed against an adult, we will be glad to discuss this with you.
It is very important that survivors of sexual abuse, both children and adults get counseling to help them understand and cope with what has happened to them. It is important for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to understand that what happened was not their fault, that they can heal, and that they can seek justice. It is important that when you are looking for a counselor, you look for one with specific training in helping survivors of sexual abuse. You should particularly look for a counselor who uses trauma-informed practices.
There both national and local organizations that help victims of crime. One organization with a good national reputation is the National Center for Victims of Crime. Also, if someone is being prosecuted for committing a crime against you or a loved one, often the district attorney’s office will have a victim’s advocate available to help you.
The following organizations are here to help victims of sexual abuse in North Carolina:
North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NC CASA): Provides information, resources and referrals to individuals throughout the state.
North Carolina Coalition for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse: Provides information to the public and works to prevent child sex abuse.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) provides information, resources, and volunteer opportunities. RAINN also runs the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
National Sexual Assault Hotline Provides information and referral services for victims.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Has representatives in many states, including North Carolina, and years of experience in helping survivors of sexual abuse, whether abused by priests or by other adults not connected with a church.
You should not take anybody’s word that they are taking care of an incident of this nature.
If you are uncertain whether you need an attorney, please feel free to call our firm and ask for Leto Copeley, who is of counsel to the firm. We will be glad to discuss this situation with you. Not all instances of sexual abuse require a representation by a lawyer. Some do, however, and if your situation calls for it, we will be glad to help.
You will not need to pay a consultation fee to talk to a lawyer at our firm about your potential sexual abuse claim.
We can investigate your case and give you an opinion about whether an institution such as an employer, school, day care, camp, church or medical practice may be liable for failing to detect the signs of sexual abuse and protecting the victim. If that happened, the negligent institution may be held accountable for the cost of its conduct.