Treating Child Abuse in a Healing Environment
Working towards healthy, emotionally stable children is our mission.
FCS offers a full range of services to children, adolescents, and families who have experienced the effects of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. We provide a safe, trusting, and nurturing environment where individuals can begin the healing process and make the transition from victims to survivors.
A longtime leader in the treatment of emotional trauma, FCS partners with the local Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) in Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties, to provide on site services to minimize the stress on both children and families. CACs are child-focused facilities where representatives from law enforcement, child protection, criminal justice, mental health, medical health, and victim advocacy work together to conduct interviews and make team decision about investigation, treatment, management, and prosecution of child abuse cases.
Recognizing the Warning Signs of Abuse
It is common for children who are sexually abused to be so traumatized that they do not talk about it for days or months. Sometimes, behavior that is out-of-character can be the first indicator of a problem. Sexual abuse therapists report that the frequent warning signs include:
- Loss of appetite, recurring nightmares, disturbed sleep patterns, fear of the dark, or similar extreme changes in behavior
- An exceptional knowledge of, or interest in, sexual matters
- Expressions of affection that are inappropriate for the child’s age
- Fear of, or great reluctance to, being left alone with a particular person
- Aggressive, disruptive, or delinquent behavior
- Running away
- Difficulties in school
Appropriate Response — What to Do if a Child Discloses Abuse
- Believe the child. The notion that children lie about sexual abuse is a myth.
- Report the suspected abuse. (For recent assault or abuse, call 911. For past assault or abuse, report to police, Child Advocacy Center, or Department of Social Services.)
- Remain calm. Take the information seriously, but don’t overreact.
- Reassure. Commend the child (or parent) for reporting it. Remind the victim that it was not his or her fault.
- Protect the victim. Always err on the side of the child’s safety.
- Support. Be there in the moment for the child and/or parent. Help him/her feel loved and accepted.