Research has shown that approximately 50% of children who are abused will not tell anyone, then there are some that will keep that secret their whole life. If we are talking about sexual abuse, this can be as high as 75%.
So what do you do if a child does share with you that they are being abused? This can be confronting and if the abuser is a family member or friend fraught with emotionally charged outcomes.
Here are some suggestions which may help you to understand what you can do:
- Respond with urgency, the police and social service groups are their to support the child and the family in this time
- Believe them, try to avoid questions like, “Are you sure?”, it has taken a great deal of soul searching and bravery to bring them to this point
- Be supportive and reassure them this is not their fault
- Stay calm, try not to show the child what you are feeling, remember it will have been hard for them to talk to you, you need to be there for them
- Be caring, showing the child that they can trust adults and we are there to protect them
- Face the problem, put your focus on the safety of the child and less on the fall out of the situation
- Protection is paramount, do what is required to make sure the child will remain safe
- Get help from the professionals, do not try to do this yourself asmyou will need help
- Do not despair, this is the first step for the child to be able to recover and there is help out there
The key is to focus on the child and everything and everyone becomes your second concern. Get the professional support and help you need, it will be impossible for you to deal with this yourself.
Remember we are all stronger than what we think, but we also need support, so reach out to those support networks that are there for you and the child and don’t forget your own mental health in this time.
Tomorrow we will talk about what the child may be feeling when they approach you, this may help you to know how to respond.
If you have any questions, please contact me at Startafreshlife.