The YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts – A Voice for Women & Girls
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Child Advocacy

Butterfly, 2The YWCA Child Advocacy Project (CAP) helps children ages 12 and under to recover from the effects of sexual abuse. Our trained staff also supports non-offending family members and caregivers, who are considered “secondary victims.” Researchers estimate that, nationwide, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are victims of sexual abuse each year. Last year alone, YWCA CAP served nearly 90 children and secondary victims.

Who can receive help?

  • Any child 12 and under who has experienced any form of sexual assault.
  • Secondary Survivors (non-offending family memebers) of a child 12 and under who has experienced any form of sexual assault.
  • YWCA CAPT serves the following cities and towns: Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Merrimack, Methuen, North Andover and North Reading.
  • All services are free, confidential and available in English and Spanish.

What is Child sexual Abuse?

  • Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse that includes sexual activity with a minor.
  • Child Sexual abuse can include both touching and non-touching behaviors (e.g. voyeurism (trying to look at a child’s naked body), exhibitionism, or exposing the child to pornography.
  • Child sexual abuse or assault is a crime.
  • The majority of perpetrators are someone the child or family knows.
  • Children of all ages and backgrounds can be victims of sexual abuse

What are the signs that a child or family needs help?

Every child is different, and children who have been sexually abused may display many different behaviors. Common signs of sexual abuse are:

  • Unusual curiosity in or avoidance of anything considered sexual
  • Changes in sleep: frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep
  • Changes in eating: increase or decrease in appetite
  • Depression or withdrawal
  • Changes in hygiene, such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively
  • Changes in school performance and attendance: not being able to concentrate, refusal to attend school
  • Develops phobias; unusual fear of certain people or places; reluctance to be alone with a certain person
  • Showing sexual molestation or sex acts Displaying sexual acts in drawings, games, fantasies or play
  • Sexual knowledge, language, and/or behaviors that are inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Unusual aggressiveness
  • Suicidal behavior or self-injury

How can the YWCA help?

The following services are free:

  • Crisis intervention: Help is available at any hour of the day or night by calling our toll-free, 24-hour confidential hotline in English and Spanish: 1.877.509.YWCA (9922)
  • Counseling: Individual and family counseling is available free of charge to child victims and their non-offending family members and/or caregivers.
  • Support: YWCA staff will accompany the child and the family to the doctor’s office, emergency room, police, court and other important service providers. We will also work with classroom teachers to help them understand how sexual abuse can affect a child’s behavior and classroom participation.

How can I help?

  • Speak up: First and foremost, know the signs of child sexual abuse and be willing to speak up if you suspect it.
  • Donate: By supporting the YWCA’s annual appeal, you will help to make sure that every child and family who are victims of child sexual abuse get the support they need. Donations can be made on-line by clicking here.
  • Advocate: Urge your elected officials including legislators and school board members to support programs and services that help victims of child sexual abuse.