As parents, educators and protectors of children, it is our responsibility to be aware of the changes in their little worlds. Talking to your child early about safety will provide opportunity to prevent or interrupt abuse and make the child feel safe when coming to tell you. Often times many children fear telling trusted adults about sexual abuse due to feelings of guilt, shame, and stress. Many children also don’t want to upset their parents or caregivers which is why they have a hard time coming forward to speak about what happened to them. Finding out that a child has been sexually abused can be emotionally deterring, but it is our job as the trusted adult to keep our world and their world together, and know how to respond and provide the child with support.
So, what if a child discloses sexual abuse to you?
Start by saying positive things like:
“I believe you and we will get help”
“You are so brave”
“I am proud of you for telling me”
“It is not your fault this happened”
“You did the right thing by coming to me”
Know that all children respond to sexual abuse differently, but it is most important for you to always respond the same. Believe them, stay calm, and get them the help they need.
When getting them help, consider reaching out to a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) like Mission Kids to better aid their road to recovery.