Dear Stop It Now!,
Hello, I’m looking for resources or advice. I was molested as a child by a man who is now being left alone to care for at least one other young child. I have told the girl’s mother, grandmother, and uncle (who are the molester’s children and ex-wife), and all of them believe me and claim they will protect her but he continues to babysit her alone. I think the statute of limitations in my case has expired. What more can I do to protect her (and potentially others)?
Dear Concerned Survivor
I’m so sorry to hear that you were sexually abused. I’m so glad you’ve reached out to us to see what you can to do prevent the abuse of other children by this man.
Although the abuse may have occurred years ago, it is still very important file a Report with Child Protection Services (CPS). You mention that the family believed you, so I’m curious if there are other allegations of abuse against this man. Even if CPS doesn’t do an investigation, having these reports of previous allegations may help a future report, or may even strengthen a past allegation of abuse by this person.
This also helps keep an accurate updated record of any potential abuse this person may have caused, which is important so that future acts of abuse may be able to be prevented. I would encourage anyone else who knows of the abuse, or has more information about it – like if you told a parent or friend when you were a child – to make a separate report to CPS. You can find the CPS reporting contact information for your state on the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Numbers By Statewebpage
Further, it may be helpful to know that only a suspicion of abuse is needed to file a report with CPS. If you are worried that this little girl may potentially be being abused by this man, please, consider making the anonymous call to Child Protective Services.
Additionally, you may want to consider filing a report with your local police station, where the abuse occurred so they have your statement on record, even if you do not wish to pursue a case against him. Here you can find out the Statue Of Limitations Laws In Your State (RAINN)(link is external), and see if you can still prosecute him criminally. Under Criminal Statutes of Limitations for Ohio it says, for “Unlawful sexual conduct with minor…” that “Legal proceedings against the perpetrator of this crime must commence within 20 years after commission of the offense.”
If this is an avenue you wish to pursue, seeking Legal Aid would be the next step. To find victim services agencies, which may help you find a lawyer, please browse through the above link. A lawyer may be able to properly advise you on what you can do now, even if the statute of limitations has run out. Since you say you are worried that this person is still in contact with a young child, and may be caring for her alone, speaking to a lawyer may enable you to find out if you can do anything further for this child under the scope of the law.
Keep bringing up your concerns to this family. Have you looked over our Warning Signs? It may be helpful to share these, along with our Safety Planning Tip Sheets with this family. Give them the tools to spot concerning behaviors and relationships.
Is there anyone who shares your concerns and who could also speak up to this family? You have been very courageous in speaking out and I hope that you have other people in your life that are both supporting you and that can also partner with you to share your concerns and fears with these parents and relatives. Perhaps if these adults heard from others about the safety concerns with this man, they will be more apt to listen. Certainly, anyone who has seen warning signs in this man of grooming behaviors or actual abuse, or any warning signs in the children of possible sexual abuse should speak up immediately.
Healing and Support
I hope that you already have some sort of Professional Help in your life already, but if you don’t – seeking this out even before making a report is recommended. As a survivor in a protective role, you deserve to have personal and professional help to help you prepare for anything that comes up. Someone who specializes in working with Adult Survivors will have the best training, knowledge, and experience to help you heal and take protective steps.
Since you’re looking to take a very active role in prevention, which is great, you may find some difficult feelings or emotions surrounding your own abuse may resurface. I want to make sure that you are taking care of yourself as you work to keep others safe. Also, some of these decisions may be difficult – like choosing whether you wish to file charges against the man who sexually abused you – and you may find that having the trained ear of a professional to be very beneficial as you navigate these decisions.
What you’re doing – looking to keep other children safe through prevention and advocacy – is commendable. Your actions now may keep this little girl, and perhaps even others, free from harm. I hope that you are able to find peace and healing, and I wish the best for you as you continue to raise awareness and educate others.
Stop It Now!