Helpline Sexual Abuse:

details
Telefonnummer:

0800-22 55 530 Free of charge and anonymous

details Office hours:Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 9.00 a.m. until 2.00 p.m.Tuesday, Thursday: 3.00 p.m. until 8.00 p.m.(Except on public holidays and on 24th and 31st December.)
Calls will be answered anonymously. In this context, both, the calling parties and also the team working at the helpline Sexual Abuse will remain anonymous. Compliance with data protection provisions will be guaranteed at any time.
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Suspected abuse

How can I tell if a child is exposed to sexual violence?

The behaviours of girls and boys who have been sexually abused can differ widely according to their age and personality and do not fit a predictable pattern. There are no specific indicators or physical symptoms that would clearly point to sexual abuse. Only a few girls and boys say directly that they have experienced sexual violence. Some children drop hints. Frequently, though, their hints are not understood because children cannot put words to what happened to them. In any case, the important thing to remember is that children do not make up stories of sexual violence for no reason!

Some children and minors show no symptoms, others change and develop complaints such as sleep disorders, tummy ache, bedwetting, anxieties, withdrawal or aggression, acting out sexual behaviours or sexualised language. Each of these symptoms, however, can also be due to other causes. But whatever the reason: any girl or boy who is changing abruptly needs the attention of their parents or other persons close to them.  

What can I do if I suspect abuse?

If you are concerned you should take your gut feeling seriously and act on it:

  • Find a person of trust to share your concern. However, do not spread rumours, because otherwise you risk being charged for libel, slander or defamation.
  • In professional settings, it is important to inform the director, headteacher etc..
  • Let the girl or boy know that you are there for them to talk.
  • Tell them that you are worried because you noticed the changes in their behaviour.
  • Do not urge the child or adolescent to open up, for they may already be under major pressure from the offender.
  • Stay calm - even if it is hard for you. If you display strong emotional responses, the child or adolescent may remain silent so as not to cause you distress.
  • Give the child or adolescent express permission to talk about "bad secrets". Communicate that seeking out help is not squealing or treason and that you believe them.
  • Communicate that you are tough and familiar with challenging topics.  
  • Never promise not to tell anyone, otherwise you will not be able to arrange for an intervention without breaking your promise.
  • Never ask the potential offender! 

Where do I find support and assistance in case of suspicion?

If you have a hunch or suspicion, get professional support. In this case, counselling centres specialising in sexual abuse would be the logical choice. They can help initiate further steps to protect the child or adolescent and help look into the matter. It may become necessary, for instance, to take the heads of schools or daycare centres on board. Moreover, it should be discussed whether or when the police should be informed.

Addresses of counselling centres near you are accessible on the data base on this website.

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