Sexual abuse is not limited to adults or females. Many children are sexually abused much before they can reach sexual maturity. This can happen in case of both boys and girls and in many cases, the perpetrator is a trusted adult. Many children do not even realize that they have been sexually assaulted until much later. However, this type of abuse leaves a lasting impression on the child and can influence their actions even as adults. Hence, it is important to address these issues.
Here are a few things you should do.
- Respond with care: When a child complains of sexual assault, it is important to believe the child and make him or her feel safe. Respond promptly and do not shush the child. It takes a lot of courage for a child to talk about sexual abuse and he or she should be made to feel secure. In many cases, the child’s account of events may change with time. This does not in any way invalidate what happened.
- Face the problem: When it comes to sexual abuse, many people find it hard to face the problem but this is something that must be done. As an adult, it is your responsibility to protect your child and make him or her feel that they have done the right thing by talking to you about it. Ensure that your child does not feel responsible for the abuse in any way and that the responsibility lies solely with the abuser.
- Reestablish safety: Sexual abuse, especially at the hands of a close family friend or relative, can make it difficult for the child to trust anyone. Reestablish family safety rules and ensure that your child is not left alone with any one person for at least some time. Do not keep the incident from your family members but make them aware of it so that your child can talk to them about it if he or she wants. The more the child talks about it, the lesser it will impact him or her.
- Get help: There is only so much that the parents can do. Sexual abuse is a serious issue and in many cases, its effects may not be visible until many years later. Hence it is important to seek professional help. Consult a counselor who can help your child cope with what he or she is feeling and strengthen their self-confidence. Do not make the child feel bad about visiting a counselor.
Most of all encourage your child to communicate with you as much as possible and show him or her that you care and only then will you be able to help your child deal with such a situatuion.
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