Sexual abuse is often extremely traumatic and difficult to process, particularly for a child. As a parent or caregiver, learning that your child has been sexually abused may be a huge shock, and can therefore be very difficult to come to terms with. The pain and guilt can be overwhelming, and it is not unusual for the abuse to continue to have an impact on you and your child’s life for an extended period of time, particularly without adequate support.
If you have just been informed that your child has been sexually abused – either recently or in the past – it is likely that you are feeling lost as to what to do next and how to cope with the emotions you are experiencing. You may also feel uncertain as to what effect the abuse will have on your child, or how to help your child to ensure that it does not significantly impact their future.
You may also not know for sure, but feel concerned that there is a chance your child has experienced sexual abuse. Some signs to look out for in your child could include:
These behaviours can also be caused by a range of other things, such as anxiety, difficulties at school and physical conditions. Furthermore, as children are often scared of getting into trouble, they may avoid telling adults about abuse they have experienced. Therefore, it can help to seek the support of a professional for both yourself and your child to determine whether your child has experienced sexual abuse and if so, finding the support to give your child the best possible chance of coping with, and overcoming the trauma of sexual abuse.
There are a number of VCPS practitioners who are specialised in working with children who have experienced sexual abuse. They can work with you, your child, or your family, so that both you and your child feel safe and supported. Some specific ways that a practitioner can assist include: