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Supporting your child as they speak up about sexual abuse

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2024 | Childhood Sex Abuse |

Studies show that, globally, childhood sexual abuse (CSA) happens to one in four girls and one in thirteen boys before they reach the age of 18. However, this number might be an underestimate of reality. Researchers also noted that only about 25% of CSA survivors talk about their experience to family members, and even fewer report incidents to authorities.

It takes a lot of courage for a child to speak up and disclose that they were sexually abused. Often, children who were sexually abused bury the incident because they feel confused, ashamed or guilty about it. While this is heartbreaking for parents, the best thing you can do is support your children.

When your child decides to reach out to you and speak up, create a safe space for them and assure them that you will be there for them. Here are three things to consider as you go through this process together:

  • Believe and listen: One of the common reasons why survivors do not disclose their childhood sexual abuse is the fear that no one would believe them. As parents, you must assure them that you believe and trust them. Listen attentively and without judgment.
  • Reassure and empower: Sometimes, CSA survivors blame themselves for what happened. Reassure your child that this is not their fault. Encourage them to share as much, or as little, as they are comfortable with. Commend how brave they are for speaking up.
  • Support and protect: Following your child’s disclosure of their CSA, the next step you could take is to seek professional help. You can reach out to a therapist to prevent possible mental health disorders. You can also contact legal authorities to help protect your child’s safety. No matter what your next step is, ensure that you make all decisions together with your child.

Childhood sexual abuse is a delicate issue both for the child and their parents. While it is inspiring to see a child display courage and speak up, it is important to recognize that every case is different. The support of an experienced legal professional who will stand up and fight for you would be a great help in this difficult battle.