We believe children can heal from abuse with support and trauma-informed services The Center for Hope and Healing Inc. provides. There are no other services in our area for children and youth who have experienced sexual abuse.

Counseling Services

Children are typically referred to CHH for services by the child’s caretaker or service provider. Youth often call our hotline directly to seek support. A CHH trauma-informed children’s counselor completes an assessment to render the best appropriate care for the child. The counselor then meets with the parent/caregiver and the child individually and collaboratively as needed so they can express themselves and learn coping mechanisms to manage stress and trauma. Through toys, age appropriate games, and creative expressive activities, the counselor and child explore concepts of healthy behaviors, safety, boundaries, and resilience.

If you are a caregiver, provider, or teacher and you would like to make a referral for someone click the button below or call 978-452-7721 for more information.

What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse is any sexual activity with a child. Sexual abuse may involve physical contact or penetration or non-physical contact such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, and child pornography.


Child sexual abuse, like other forms of sexual violence, is about power and control. Abusers can manipulate victims to stay quiet about the sexual abuse using a number of different tactics. Often an abuser will use their position of power over the victim to coerce or intimidate the child.

What are warning signs of Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse isn’t always easy to spot. Direct physical signs of sexual abuse are not common. The perpetrator could be someone you’ve known a long time or trust, which may make it even harder to notice. Consider the following warning signs:

  • Bleeding, bruises, or swelling in genital area
  • Redness and bumps, or scabs around the mouth, genital, or anus.
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections
  • Pain, itching, or burning in genital area or during a bowel movements
  • Changes in hygiene, such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively
  • Develops phobias; unusual fear of certain people or places; reluctance to be alone with a certain person
  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviors
  • Overly protective and concerned for siblings, or assumes a caretaker role
  • Changes in mood that could including anger, aggressiveness towards parents, siblings, friends, pets

  • Adapted from RAINN.

    Prevention: Talking About Consent and Boundaries

    Talking about these issues is a lifelong conversation for parents and their children. These are some examples of specific messages parents can give to help prevent unhealthy relationships and sexual assault, or know what to do if something happens.

    8 years old or younger:

  • “You don’t have to kiss or hug anyone you don’t want to.”
  • “You should never touch someone else if they tell you not to.”
  • “Good friends are nice to each other and take turns talking and listening to each other.”
  • “If anyone other than me or the doctor ever touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or touches your penis or vagina, tell them no and to stop. If they won’t stop, tell an adult like me or (another trusted adult).”
  • 9-11 years old:

  • “People who care about each other treat each other with respect, even when they disagree with each other.”
  • “If anyone tries to make you do anything you don’t want to do, you can tell them ‘I don’t want to do that. Let’s do something else instead”
  • “If someone is treating you in a very mean way or bullying you, it’s not ok and it’s not your fault. Come talk to me if anything like that happens to you or a friend”
  • 12-14 years old:

  • “What things are important to feel safe and cared for in a relationship? What wouldn’t be OK with you?”
  • “Technology and social media can help us stay connected with the people we love, but can also lead to miscommunication, spreading gossip, or following where you’re going (stalking).”
  • “In a relationship, it’s never OK for one person to pressure the other to do anything they don’t want to do.”
  • “Rape and sexual assault are crimes and are never the victim’s fault. They are always the fault of the person who committed the crime.”
  • 15-18 years old:

  • “Consent is how you and your partner both know that sex is OK and wanted by both of you. You always need to ask for consent if you want to have sex, and you always have the right to say yes or no to sex.”
  • “If you were in an unhealthy relationship, how would you break up with someone safely?”
  • “If you’re drunk or high, it can be really hard to read someone’s signals to know if they’re consenting or not.”
  • “There are resources in our community to help people who are sexually assaulted. If you or one of your friends is ever in that situation, you can go there, and of course you can always come to me for help.”
  • Adapted from Planned Parenthood.

    Resources

    http://middlesexcac.org/

    A Children’s Advocacy Center (“CAC”) provides a comprehensive, culturally competent, multi-disciplinary team response to allegations of child abuse in a dedicated, child-friendly setting. A CAC brings together members of the child protection, law enforcement, prosecution, victim advocacy, medical and mental health communities to provide child victims and their non-offending family members with comprehensive services designed to meet their individual needs.