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Helping an Abused Child

Provide safety, love and support. Let them know it is okay to cry, or be mad. Make sure your child understands it is not his or her fault. Don't coach or pressure your child to talk about things.

Some things you can say that will really help the child:

  • I believe you.
  • I know it's not your fault.
  • I'm glad I know about it.
  • I'm sorry this happened to you.
  • Nothing about YOU made this happen.
  • It has happened to other children, too.
  • You don't need to take care of me.
  • I am upset, but not with you.
  • I am angry with the person who did this.
  • I'm sad. You may see me cry. That's all right. I will be able to take care of you. I'm not mad at you.
  • I don't know why he/she did it. He/she has a problem.
  • You can still love someone but hate what he/she did to you.

Some things you can do:

  • Return to a normal routine as soon as possible.
  • See that your child receives therapy as soon as possible. Trying to ignore the problem and resume activities usually causes more problems, because the real issues will not go away.
  • Find help for yourself. You don't have to handle this alone.
  • Teach your children the rules of personal safety. Tell them what to do if someone tries to touch them in an uncomfortable way.
  • Be careful not to question your child about the abuse. If you do, you can jeopardize the case in court against your child's abuser. Professionals will interview your child to obtain the necessary information while trying to also lessen their anxiety. If your child wants to talk about it, listen supportively, but do not probe.
  • Keep your child away from the person suspected of the abuse. This is to protect you, the person and the child.
  • Avoid discussing the case with other victims or their families unless in a controlled therapeutic setting.
  • Never coach or advise your child on how to act or what to say to professionals or investigators. This could seriously damage the case.
  • Provide your child with an extra sense of physical security.
  • Stay close, and assure your child you will keep him/her safe.
  • Remember to give attention to your other children.
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