3 Steps Towards Healing and Protecting Your Child from Abuse.
Child sexual abuse. It’s a horrible reality. It’s a terrible problem. It’s more prevalent than you may think.
It’s a taboo subject in many circles but if it happens to affect your child or a child you know it is overwhelming, scary, confusing and shocking. What should you do? Where should you seek help? Below are some important first steps:
Step 1: Always believe your child, and go out of your way to emphasis that you believe them.
Here’s what you can tell your child:
- It was very good that you told me.
- You are not in trouble because you told me.
- I am so sorry this happened to you.
- What happened to you was not right. It was wrong
- I love you. I will work to make sure this never happens to you again. .
Fact: Only a very low 4-8% of reported sexual abuse cases are found to be fabricated.
Step 2: Don’t make your child repeat the story multiple times.
David Finkelhor states “the unanticipated consequences of disclosure – the interviews, the hearings, the disruption in their lives – and the reactions of others – the denials, the outrage, the confrontations, the ostracism, these are often more upsetting to them than the abuse. Thus every effort needs to be made to minimize the impact of these reactions and interventions… Thus every effort is made to limit the number of times a child has to be interviewed about the abuse.” – page 101 “Child Sexual Abuse” in Child & Trauma book.
Step 3: Seek help immediately.
- Remove your child from any imminent danger, with threats of immediate harm. Call 911.
- Call the DCFS hotline and report what happened to your child. If your child shared who the perpetrator was, have that information ready to share.
- Call your pediatrician
- Seek counseling services for your child as soon as possible.
Research indicates that getting an abuse victim and their family help through processing their story in a safe place can cultivate resilience, foster hope, and start them on a path towards healing. If your child or a child you know is or has been a victim of sexual abuse don’t keep silent.
Susan Stutzman, LCPC, RPT, founder and owner of Kid Matters Counseling.
Owner | Child Therapist | LCPC, RPT
I use the therapeutic power of play and child development research to achieve short-term, practical solutions to restore emotional stability for the child and peace in the home.
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