Research shows that the support of a caring parent/caretaker is the MOST important ingredient in a child's healing from sexual abuse. A child's safety, trust, self-esteem, intimacy and feelings of control over their lives have been affected by the abuse. You can help! You have the tools! The following are 'some' ideas of how:
To help your child feel safe:
- Tell your child you will protect them.
- Ask them what will help them to feel safe.
- Teach and reinforce personal safety rules.
- Provide structure and be consistent with family rules.
- Give them a teddy bear or some symbol of comfort.
To help your child trust again:
- Demonstrate that your child has supportive people who they can trust – help them identify them.
- Explain that though some people cannot be trusted most people are good.
- Involve your child in 'safe' programs where they can be around trustworthy people. (Be sure to check out carefully since abused children are vulnerable and sometimes make poor choices.)
To help your child gain self-esteem:
- Give them jobs/projects to do that will help them to gain confidence – praise your child often.
- Ask them what would make them feel good about themselves.
To help your child open-up and be capable of intimacy:
- Tell them what feelings are and give them examples.
- Listen well and model good communication skills and honesty.
- Acknowledge the thoughts and feelings they express.
To help your child feel that they have some control over their lives:
- Point out times when they did control their lives. (Like having the offender and the abuse identified.)
- Show them that they do have control in their lives by helping them to set goals. Ask them what they want and help them to get it. (If reasonable.)
- Give children coping ideas to protect themselves (What to look for/ whom to go to/ how to respond to demands, etc.)