If you learn from your child that they have faced or are currently facing sexual abuse, or if you recognize the signs of abuse, it is the start of a difficult time.
However, by taking the right steps at an early enough time, you will be able to take legal action and do what you can to preserve your child’s mental health and well-being.
Have a conversation
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network discusses what steps to take if your child tells you about sexual abuse they have faced.
First, if you notice the signs without your child speaking about it first, broach the topic with them directly. Be gentle, calm and open, but remain direct. Be sure to remind your child that it is safe to tell you about anything they may have experienced, even if another adult said not to.
Believe your child
Next, remember that your child believes in you and expects you to protect them. Children rarely lie about abuse accusations, so keep this in mind even if the accused abuser is a person that you trust.
Call the authorities
Call the local authorities after receiving this information. Police may provide resources that you can use to help your child get through this difficult time. They will also investigate the allegations and take appropriate legal actions regarding anything they uncover.
Seek mental help
Finally, be sure to seek appropriate mental health care, which can reduce the possibility of your child suffering from long-term trauma. The Children’s Advocacy Center in your area will be able to refer you to pediatric mental health professionals with a specialty in childhood sexual abuse.