It is a sad truth in our society that a sexual assault program would be needed at a children’s hospital. It is sadder still that, here at CHEO, we see one or more kids in our emergency room every week who have been impacted by sexual assault.
It happens more often than you think. Studies show one in four females and one in ten males will be sexually assaulted in some form before adulthood (Badgley Commission, 1984 ). So if this has happened to you or to a member of your family, know this – you are not alone.
At CHEO, we are committed to providing support to our patients and their families. We have specially trained teams which consist of a nurse, a social worker and an emergency room physician. The patient will be provided with medical evaluation, treatment options, as well as psychosocial support. The team works in collaboration with other health care professionals within CHEO and community resources – and focuses on making the process easier for the patient and the family.
The main role of the social worker is to support and validate the patient and family during the ER visit and to provide support following discharge. The social worker helps to address the social, emotional, cultural and environmental factors that affect a family's ability to respond to a child's or youth's health care needs.
What is a sexual assault?
Child sexual abuse is any sexual act with a child performed by an adult or adolescent. This can involve touching to penetration. Other forms of sexual abuse are exposing genitals to a child, showing pornographic material or using a child as a model to photograph or videotape.
Most children/adolescents are abused by someone known to them and can therefore exert power over them. The offender is often a person of authority figure the child trusts or loves. Offenders persuade, bribe, coerce the child to engage in sexual acts.
What if it happens to my child?
If your child discloses information to you about sexual abuse it is important for them to know it is not their fault and that you believe them. Tell your child that " I believe you, I'm glad you told me and I will do my best to protect you ".
Can I come in confidentially?
A teenager who has been impacted by sexual assault or abuse can absolutely come in confidentially. You can talk to members of the sexual assault team who will not tell your parents or family of the visit. Your desire for confidentiality will be honored.
What should I do?
You can call the police, children's aid society, and contact the Emergency Department at CHEO 737-2328, to speak with a member of the Sexual Assault Team.
What should I expect if we go to CHEO’s Emergency Department?
A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, who is specially trained to assess children/adolescents who have been sexually assaulted, will be called to see you, along with a specially trained social worker. Together they will assess the patient and determine the best option of care.
A physical exam will be done from head to toe. Swabs may be taken for sexually transmitted infections and forensic evidence. Sometimes blood and urine will be collected. Oral medication may be given for prevention of infection or pregnancy.
Some injections may be required to bring Immunizations up to date.