If you are a parent/carer/other support person of a child who has been abused

Child sexual abuse occurs when a child is engaged in sexual activities that he or she cannot comprehend, or for which he or she is developmentally unprepared and therefore cannot give consent. This includes:

  • sexual penetration;
  • sexual touching;
  • exposure;  and
  • voyeurism

Every day, many parents/caregivers face the shocking reality that their child has been sexually abused. Most sexual abuse takes place within homes and is usually committed by someone who is trusted by the child.

Sexual assault does affect children and families, but with good support and counselling these effects can be lessened.

What can you do to help your child now?

There are many things you can do to help your child deal with the effects of the sexual abuse. Some important ones are:

  • believe the child and praise them for telling
  • allow them to have as much control as possible over the decisions that are made about them
  • allow them to feel and express the whole range of feelings that they may be experiencing
  • help them to feel safe and protect them from further abuse
  • help them to find someone they can trust, someone they can talk to about what has happened

How you may be feeling

If your child is abused you may experience a mixture of feelings such as shock, confusion,  disbelief,  numbness,  guilt,  betrayal,  fear,  hurt,  anger at yourself for not knowing or not being able to stop it,  anger at the abuser,  anger at the child for not telling you,  worried about what other people will think.

You may want to know exactly what happened, or you may not want to hear about it at all.

You might find it difficult to listen if your child tries to talk about it.

Child sexual abuse can provoke many different reactions and feelings, but counselling for yourself and your child can help you through this.

Remember:

  • Children cannot stop abuse from happening
  • Children have less power than abusers

You can contact SASS on 6231 1811 or our 24/7 crisis line 1800 697 877  just to talk things through.