This material was re printed and updated through the generous support of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention under grant number
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This booklet is not intended to and does not provide legal advice or representation. MCASA and all contributors to this publication speci˜cally disclaim any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this publication. If you have any type of case involving child sexual abuse, you are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney. MCASA appreciates Lisae C. Jordan, Esq., and Melissa McDermott Lane, LCSW-C, the authors of this booklet. This material was re printed and updated through the generous support of the Governor™s O˚ce of Crime Control and Prevention under grant number SASP-2016-1701. This project was originally supported with a Family Division/ Family Services Special Project Grant from the Maryland Administrative O˚ce of the Courts, Department of Family Administration. MCASA also would like to extend its thanks to the Maryland Legal Services Corporation for its generous support of our work addressing child sexual abuse in Maryland. The opinions, ˜ndings, and conclusions expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the o˚cial position or policies of the funders. © Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2018. All Rights Reserved.
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Understanding the Legal System When Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused | SALI 3 Table of Contents Introduction ..4Emotional Recovery .5 ..6Who Commits Sexual Abuse? ..7Disclosing Child Sexual Abuse ..8Should I Question My Child About What Happened? ..8The Legal System In Child Abuse Cases 9Sexual Abuse – A Legal Term .. 10Child Protective Services ..11Child Advocacy Centers 11Criminal Cases .13Peace Orders And Protective Orders 22Family Law: Custody and Visitation ..26Family Law: Divorce ..31Immigration .32Tort Lawsuits ..33Concluding Thoughts ..34Recommended Resources ..35
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4 SALI | Understanding the Legal System When Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused Introduction Child sexual abuse occurs when a person engages in activity with a childto meet his or her own sexual needs. It is not a love relationship; rather female and are typically not strangers to the child or his or her family. Boys and girls are both victimized. Because so many people do not most estimates are that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before they are 18 years old. sexually abused. This may be a time full of whirling and bombarding loneliness, to name but a few. When a child discloses sexual abuse, it may throw an entire family into crisis. You and your family may be well- -lems, however you may not be as well- your child has been abused. You may be dealing with a new system of profession-als, such as: Child Protective Services (CPS), police, medical, and legal sys-tems. You may also be responding to the behaviors and emotions related to your legal process, and/or the sexual abuse. Facing all this may challenge every re-source you have.about how the legal system responds to allegations of child sexual abuse. travel through this process.Because so many people do not report child sexual abuse, it™s di˚cult to know how frequent it is, but most es – timates are that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before they are 18 years old.
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Understanding the Legal System When Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused | SALI 5 Emotional Recovery troubles, but when your child has been abused, the stress of the experience (disclosure and inves- of the abuse, really need to be discussed with a trained coun-selor or therapist.Every Child is Di˛erent Not every child experiences sexual abuse the same way; some children preventing future problems.Counseling may not be a ﬁone-shot through all the current issues. However, later on, as he or she grows older and en- adolescence, young adulthood, parent-hood), new issues may arise and counsel-ing should be sought again. This does not mean the initial counseling, you, or your child is a failure, rather it simply means that as your child is adjusting to her abuse may be complicating an already rough transition and need to be addressed.Counseling for Brothers and Sisters And You Counseling should not just be considered for your child, who has beenvictimized, but also for his or her siblings, and yourself. The stress of The stress of victimization and disclosure a˛ects all members of the family.
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6 SALI | Understanding the Legal System When Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused E˛ects of Child Sexual Abuse of child sexual abuse are not the same include one or more of the following.Some children experience Ł feelings of guilt, shame, anxietyŁ feeling depression or griefŁ repressed angerŁ impaired ability to trustŁ blind trust Š trusting anyoneŁSome children experience Ł withdrawing from friends and familyŁ destroying propertyŁ using alcohol or drugsŁ acting outSome children experience Ł injuriesŁ pregnancyŁ sexually transmitted diseasesŁ changes in eating or sleeping patternsSome children experience Ł shortened attention spanŁŁ school problemsŁ low self-esteemŁ helpless victim mentalitySome children experience Ł being re-victimizedŁ victimizing othersŁ being sexually overactive
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8 SALI | Understanding the Legal System When Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused Disclosing Child Sexual Abuse Most children do not report sexual abuse immediately after it happens.Child molesters manipulate victims to discourage them from telling family if you tell,ﬂ or be more subtle, such as bribing or isolating a child. When children do disclose, the way they tell someone varies. Some children tell a friend or adult directly, but others reveal the abuse by ac – it directly. For example, they may Some children try to bargain with the person they are telling with a comment such as ﬁI have something to tell you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone.ﬂdisclose everything that happened. It is also very common for children system or family disruption occurs.Should I Question My Child About What Happened? -cused of ﬁcoachingﬂ the child.If you suspect abuse, get your child to a neutral, objective as possible.ﬁI have something to tell you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone.ﬂ
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Understanding the Legal System When Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused | SALI 9 The Legal System in Child Abuse Cases and even more confusing when child sexual abuse is involved.As a parent or other adult who wants to protect a child victim, you may feel that the issue of abuse is clear and the perpetrator should simply have no contact with the child-victim and be jailed. The courts, however, must remain neutral until a case is decided. Courts must protect the rights of people accused of child sexual abuse and also protect victims. This can be extremely frustrating for a victim and her or his family members.One Child, Many Cases child sexual abuse can involve all or some of these:Ł Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation Š if no adult is protecting a child this can lead to a Child In Need of Assistance (CINA) case against parents or guardians.Ł Criminal caseŁ Protective or Peace Order caseŁ Family Law case (custody, divorce, visitation)Ł
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10 SALI | Understanding the Legal System When Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused Sexual Abuse – A Legal Term Courts and lawyers sometimes use words in special ways. One of the more confusing terms in the law is ﬁsexual abuse of a minorﬂ or ﬁchild sexual abuse.ﬂﬁSexual abuseﬂ of a child does not cover every situation where a child cases, sexual abuse of a minor means that the person committing the molestation had a particular relationship with the child and was a:Ł parent;Ł household or family member;Ł person who has permanent or temporary care or custody of the child;Ł person who has responsibility for supervision of a child; orauthority over the child. If other people, such as strangers, sexually molest a child, they can still be charged with a crime for the sexual touching, but the crime is not legal system responds. any individual commits ﬁSexual abuseﬂ of a child is NOT just that a person sexually molests or exploits a child.
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Understanding the Legal System When Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused | SALI 11 Child Protective Services Child Protective Services (CPS) is part of the state government and has the authority to investigate when certain types of child abuse or neglect home and placed in foster care. minor is alleged, only then will Child Protective Services become involved. In other words, if the child molester is related to, lives with, or has responsibility for the child-victim, then CPS will investigate. If they the perpetrator no longer has access to the child and the child is safe.If the child molester is NOT someone who is related to, lives with, or has responsibility for the child-victim, then CPS will NOT become involved. Examples: CPS would investigate if the child molester was a parent, other family member. Examples: CPS would not investigate if the child molester was a of the family who was not babysitting or supervising the child.Child Advocacy Centers Many communities in Maryland have ﬁchild advocacy centersﬂ (CACs). These are organizations where child protective services, police, on child sexual abuse cases. Some CACs are called ﬁthe Child Advocacy in Howard County. CACs are one-stop shops that aim to minimize the number of times a child is interviewed and help assure that people
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