What to do if a Child Discloses Sexual Abuse to You

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by FloGold, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. FloGold Moderator

    Hearing a disclosure – a child telling you that someone has abused him/her – can be scary. How you respond can be critical. A lot of thoughts may run through your mind.
    • You may be worried about the child and yourself.
    • You may be unsure of how to respond or what to say.
    • You may be unsure of the child’s comments and information.
    • You may not be sure if the child has been abused.
    • You may be angry with the parent or alleged abuser.
    How you respond is very important. Responding to a disclosure of abuse or neglect is a big responsibility.
    Please keep in mind:
    1. Children often are reluctant to tell about abuse.
    2. The majority of perpetrators in sexual abuse cases are non-related caregivers; i.e., baby-sitters, step-parents, boyfriends, girlfriends or adoptive parents.
    3. Children often love the person who is abusing them and simply want the abusive behavior to stop. Because they love and care about the person, they may be reluctant to get the person in trouble.
    4. Many perpetrators tell children to keep the abuse a secret and frighten them with unpleasant consequences.
    5. Children may start to tell someone about the abuse. If the person reacts with disgust or doesn’t believe them, they will stop disclosing the events. Then they may not tell anyone about it until they feel brave enough or have established a sense of trust with someone. This may delay them from seeking help.
    6. If a child begins to tell you about possible abuse, please listen carefully.
    Ideas that can help
    • Find a place to talk where there are no physical barriers between you and the child.
    • Be on the same eye level as the child.
    • Don’t interrogate or interview the child.
    • Be tactful. Choose your words carefully. Don’t be judgmental about the child or the alleged abuser.
    • Listen to the child.
    • Do not project or assume anything.
    • Let the child tell her own story.
    • Find out what the child wants from you.
    • A child may ask you to promise not to tell anyone.
    • Be honest about what you are able to do for the child.
    • Be calm; reactions of disgust, fear, anger, etc., may confuse or scare a child.
    • Assess the urgency of the situation. Is the child in immediate danger? Safety needs may make a difference in your response.
    • Confirm the child’s feelings. Let him know that it is okay to be scared, confused, sad or however he is feeling.
    • Believe the child and be supportive.
    • Assure the child that you care. Some children will think you may not like them anymore if they tell you what happened. Let her know that you are still her friend and that she is not to blame.
    • Tell the child it is not his fault. Many children will think that the abuse happened because of something they did or did not do. Don’t over dramatize.
    • Tell the child you are glad he told you.
    • Tell the child you will try to get her some help.
    • Let the child know what you will do. This will help build a sense of trust, and he will not be surprised when he finds out that you told someone.
    • Tell the child you need to tell someone whose job it is to help with these kinds of problems.
    • Report your suspicions to the appropriate agency. Check our Resources page.
    • Urge anyone who was victimized to contact WINGS, so they can receive support from others and begin to heal.
    After a Disclosure:
    • After your child has revealed abuse, you may be shocked, confused and/or angry. Regardless of what you are feeling or thinking, it is important to respond to your child appropriately.
    • Remember that your child is a child, and treat him/her as such. Don’t expect your child to respond like an adult.
    • Be supportive of your child, but do not treat him/her differently.
    • Keep to your regular routine as much as possible.
    • Do not expect your child to appear “changed.”
    • Do not question your child about the abuse. By doing so, you may jeopardize the police investigation.
    • If your child wishes to discuss the abuse with you, just listen and be supportive.
    • Be prepared for depression or “let-down” weeks or months after the disclosure. Your child may become withdrawn or act out repeatedly over time.
    • Do not advise your child on what to do or say in a police interview beyond encouraging them to tell the truth.
    • Sexually abused children may be susceptible to feelings of low self esteem. Help your child nurture a positive sense of individual identity with positive messages.
    • Explain in simple, age-appropriate terms what is happening throughout the police investigation (or as your child has questions).
    • Acknowledge any feelings of anger, guilt, frustration, sadness etc., that your child may experience. Let your child know it is okay to feel anything. Teach him/her appropriate ways to express his/her feelings.
    • Be aware of your own reactions and get support and help as you work through your own feelings.
    • Don’t discuss the abuse with others in yourchild’s presence.
    Children often feel a sense of relief after disclosing abuse. Support from the parent or caregiver is one of the most important factors in your child’s healing process. By offering support, you play an important role in your child’s mental and emotional health.

    More information under the cut, please feel free to disseminate everywhere.
    • Like Like x 6
  2. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    Believe the child. They don't make this shit up.
    If you do nothing they will not talk about it again. They risk consequences if they tell, they won't risk these if telling doesn't stop it.
    FloGold thank you.
    • Like Like x 2

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