HELPING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIMS
If a child you know has been sexually abused, here’s how to help:
- Help the child to express her/his feelings.
- Do not blame the child for what has happened. Tell the child that you are not angry with her/him and that she/he did nothing wrong. Tell the child that you are concerned about her/him and want to help.
- Be honest with the child. Share what you know. She/He needs to trust you more than ever.
- Restore the child’s sense of control. Allow her/him to help decide what to do. Assure that you will be with her/him and help.
- Do not push the child to talk about the experience. If the subject comes up, discuss it honestly and openly.
- Suggest to the child’s non-abusive guardian to maintain routines and return to usual activities as soon as possible. Don’t become too protective of the child. You want to calm any sense of urgency or emergency and not escalate the fear or anxiety.
- Give the child safety information, but avoid causing her/him to be more fearful of people than she/he already is. Help her/him to identify safe people to go to when she/he is scared or sad.
- Pay attention to the needs of other children in your household. Give them the information and support they need to deal with their concerns.
- Discuss your feelings with someone you trust, such as a friend, relative or counselor. This is not a time for you to be “tough”. It is a good time to seek support for yourself.
The Center offers free counseling to children and their loved ones.