Survivors of child sexual abuse may experience long-term and short-term effects throughout their lifetime. The after-effects can be overwhelming and extremely difficult to manage at times. Overcoming the trauma, shame, and guilt that is left behind can be a rocky road. Progress can be skewed, some days can be better than others. It's important to remember and recognize that not all children are affected the same way by trauma.
- Be a nurturing parent, spend as much time as possible with your child every day (eat dinner together, play a game, or read a bedtime story), encourage your child (praise his or her talents and achievements), set clear and consistent rules and boundaries (be fair with discipline and don't expect more from your child than is appropriate for his or her age), and most importantly love and support your child unconditionally.
- Helping children cope with trauma: Maintain routines, children benefit from structure and familiar schedules as much as possible (Regular bedtimes and mealtimes, going to the same school or daycare, continued participation in sports or social activities)
-Always stress to the child that what happened is not his or her fault
- Monitor media exposure, repeatedly seeing violence or traumatic events in the media can make a child's reaction worse. Try to limit exposure to TV, video games, and other media involving violence or scenes of disaster, and scenes that are related to any traumatic event(s) the child has experienced
- Offer opportunities for control, trauma can make a child feel powerless. To help rebuild a sense of control, allow the child to make some of their own choices.
Help for Parents/Caregivers
- There is no right or correct way to react to the news that your child has been abused. It's typical to experience a range of emotions such as shock, anger, sadness, anxiety or fear, all of which are completely normal. It's important to work through those feelings to help sort through this issue. Professional support can result in healthier long and short term results for both you and your child.
- Family and friends can play a big part in recovery. Be sympathetic, listen when the person needs to talk. Be supportive, encourage the person to get help if needed, try to be understanding. Continue to give your love and support even if they are trying to push you away. Be involved, become educated and learn more about their life and interests.
- Demonstrate your support and love for your child at every possible moment, studies show that a sexually abuse child builds strength from the love and support of family and community, including extended family members, the child’s friends, supportive teachers, or other trustworthy adults.
- Create a safe place, find out where your child feels the most comfortable, when they do feel uncomfortable or having a tough time ask them if they would like to go to their safe place for a little while. Ensure them that you will be close in case they would like your company. CARE (Consistency, Active Learning, Respect, and Empathy. Modeling CARE to your child through these simple actions provides your child with the knowledge that no matter what they do you will remain a steady and reliable person who will guide them back to safety and their better self.