Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month – We Are ALL Part of the Solution

Most of us are deeply dismayed by the constant flow of news stories regarding sexual abuse cases. These cases happens across all ages, populations, races, and in people living with disabilities.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual assault and abuse of people with disabilities often goes unreported. Educating our communities on what to look for and how to report is part of our mission in support of Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

At Skills, we advocate a solution-based philosophy that includes education for awareness. Being aware and person-centered allows us to notice changes in behaviors or routines that may indicate something is amiss. We also advocate for a safe and harassment free workplace for our employees. Taking a strong stance against abuse of all kinds is necessary in all environments.

So what signs do you look for?

While these signs are important for those caring for someone with an Intellectual or Behavioral Health Disability, they also exist across all victims:

  • CHANGES in the way affection is shown, especially if unusual or inappropriate
  • Fear of intimacy or closeness
  • Suddenly fears of being touched
  • Sudden onset of nightmares
  • CHANGES in sleep patterns; difficulty sleeping
  • Sudden regression to childlike behaviors (i.e., bed-wetting, thumb-sucking)
  • Cruelty to animalsSudden fear of bathing or toileting or inadequate hygiene
  • Sudden fear of a person or place
  • Depression, withdrawal, or mood swings
  • ANY UNEXPLAINED CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR
  • Self-injury (cutting, burning)
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Running away from home
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Suicide attempts
  • Compulsive eating or dieting

Signs of sexual abuse in adults :

  • Fear responses to reminders of the assault
  • Pervading sense of anxiety, wondering whether it is possible to ever feel safe again
  • Re-experiencing assault over and over again through flashbacks
  • Problems concentrating and staying focused on the task at hand
  • Guilty feelings
  • Developing a negative self-image, feeling “dirty” inside or out
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Disruptions in close relationships
  • Loss of interest in sex

RAINN also states, if you suspect sexual assault or abuse, you should report it. We recommend calling your local police station or 911 to contact law enforcement. If the person being abused is considered a vulnerable adult, you may also be able to contact the local Department of Human Services or Department of Social Services. As a mandatory reporter, Skills understands that these discussions and situations are difficult, but we also know that when communities work together, incidences like this decrease. We are a community and we are all part of the solution.

To find out more about child abuse prevention month go to: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/

For Information on Sexual Assault Awareness Month and their I Ask program visit:https://www.nsvrc.org/saam