Learning that your child has been touched or violated in some way is devastating, disorienting and demoralizing. Images may be intruding your mind and feelings of confusion, anger, and sadness maybe be washing over you. There is that pit in the middle of your stomach and your mind jumping from thought to thought.
“What exactly happened?”
“How could this have happened?”
“Will my child be ok?”
Conservative estimates suggest 1 out of 5 girls and 1 out of 20 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. Child sexual abuse is a devastating experience for the child and the entire family. Most sexual abuse is committed by someone close and trusted by the child and family making it one of the most intrusive and overwhelming traumas a family can endure. Your support is one of the most powerful and critical components of recovery. Healing all starts with you.
What are some reactions my child might have follow sexual assault?
Children can experience a wide variety of responses to child sexual abuse or a sexual assault:
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Temper tantrums
- Self blame/guilt
- Difficulty trusting
- False beliefs about themselves, others or the world
It can be very hard for some children to talk about what they have experienced. In fact many children do not tell because they are fearful of the consequences.
What can I do for my child or teen?
Believe them. Your child needs your support. They need to know that you are on their side, believe them and that it is not their fault. Let your child know in words and actions that you are glad they told or that the assault came to light. Listen and validate your child. Treat your child as usual and don’t blame or punish them.
What should I do for myself?
Protecting one’s child is a fundamental parental value. Learning that your child has been sexually abused cuts to the core of parents. You may be feeling confused, angry, shocked, hurt, guilty, sad and/or betrayed. You may not be sure what happened or what exactly you should believe. Trouble sleeping, eating and concentrating are fairly common. You may feel alone.
Let Us Help
You’re not alone. We work very closely with parents and youth. We walk you through that initial state of crisis and into the journey of healing. This includes not only navigating your child’s emotional reactions but also your family’s responses, the legal system, DCPP, and more. We process your experience about what has happened in order for you to fully support and assist your child’s recovery. You will have specific strategies for you to do with your child to facilitate healing.
Be Brave: connect@BraveMindsNJ.com or (908) 242-3634