When a young person discloses sexual abuse, most parents feel deeply shocked along with a whole range of other feelings like anger, rage, guilt, fear, betrayal, grief, confusion and worry. Parents and family members should seek help immediately to talk to someone who can guide them through what needs to happen and how to help the child/ young person.
Following your child’s disclosure, it is important to consult with CYFS, the Police, ACC and Sexual Abuse Agencies who can assist you through the process of notification.
It is important to have an independent person, an expert in child abuse recovery, to check the impact the sexual abuse has had on your child / adolescent. It is especially important that children do not blame themselves for the abuse.
If a child grows up believing that he/she was to blame for this bad experience will set a child up for a great many difficulties like shame, guilt, low self-worth and becoming a victim both psychologically and emotionally in the future.
Children need a place where they can safely express their many feelings, thoughts and confusions about what happened. Children tend to protect their parents from further distress and so they will often report that they are just fine. More often than not this is not the case.
Sexual abuse can traumatise a child and without help these symptoms can become entrenched and cause many difficulties to develop like anxiety, fears, social problems, lack of trust, withdrawal, grief, depression, etc.
It is a known fact that children who have been abused are more vulnerable to further abuse. Some counselling and education can address this issue and help your child be emotionally strong, confident, assertive with high self esteem. Keeping Safe education is usually given to children/adolescents as part of their therapy process.
Children need to resolve as much as possible at their present age and developmental level. However your child will go on processing the abuse at each new developmental stage and further counselling is available for them throughout their life if they need it.
A young person can recover from abuse but it will take time and commitment. Parents are the key people in encouraging a child’s growth and healing in a safe and supportive home environment. Parents and children both need guidance and expert help to ensure a smooth recovery.