Parents & Caregivers

information for parents and caregivers on sexual assault

As a parent or caregiver, you have a vital role in helping your child or loved one cope with the effects of sexual abuse.  Here are tips on helping your child and yourself throughout this process.

As a parent you have a vital role in helping your child or loved one cope with the effects of sexual abuse. You will no doubt face difficult circumstances during this time. The immediate trauma will subside, but there can be longer-term psychological consequences. There are ways in which you can help your child and yourself through this process.


Ways To Help Your Child Recover From Sexual Abuse 

Tell your child that you believe them: This is one of the most healing statements that a parent can make. One of a child’s biggest fears is that they will not be believed. Tell your child that it was not their fault: Explain that the blame is on the abuser and that they are not to blame for any of the events that occurred.

Listen: Whenever your child wants to speak and open up, listen without interrupting. Do not suggest ways that they should feel. Be prepared for a wide range of emotions. If the abuse occurred from a family member or loved one, the child may have mixed feelings about what happened. Do not force your feelings or opinions onto your child.

Encourage positive activities: You may want to overprotect your child, but it is important that normal activities resume, especially ones that your child enjoys.


Ways To Help Yourself Recover From Your Child’s Sexual Abuse

Talk with a counselor: You as a parent may go through feeling powerless, guilty, vengeful, betrayed, angry and frustrated. You have a crucial role in your child’s recovery and need to be able to speak open and honestly with someone about your emotions. If you do not feel comfortable speaking with a counselor, please find a support person to whom you can talk and vent to while away from your child.

Understand you are not responsible for the abuse: The abuser is the only person that is responsible.

You have to look after your own health: Stress affects the body in so many ways. It is important that you take care of yourself, in order to also take care of your child. It is good to take time out for yourself. Try to eat healthy, exercise, and get sleep all so that your body does not get run down.

Be patient: As much as you want to you cannot fix or undo the situation. The immediate crisis will pass. Your child’s healing will proceed at its own pace and cannot be rushed. Being there to listen and support your child is the most important part of his or her recovery.