It is hard for an unsuspecting parent to discover that their child has been the victim of abuse. The following is a list of procedures to follow, to help offer support and encouragement towards the child's recovery.
When your child comes forward and tells you they have been the victim of child abuse:
1. Be sure to respond calmly to your child. Coming forward with something like this is really difficult for a child to do, so make sure you take the information with support and compassion for the child, not with shock and anger.
2. Be sure that your child is safe from further abuse. Making their environment safer will show the child that coming to you was the right decision.
3. Reassure your child that he/she is safe, that he/she made the right decision in telling you, and that you will help.
4. Let your child know that what has happened to him/her is in no way the child's fault.
5. If indicated, obtain the appropriate medical, emotional, and legal help for your child's needs.
6. Make sure other family members respect your child's privacy. Explicit details aren't necessary, only the information that this person in the family has had a bad experience and that it is now safe. Let the child lead the way in communicating about what has happened to him/her but give enough information to other children in the family to ensure their safety.
7. Try to follow normal routines around your home. Your child is still the same person as before and may need to have constant reassurance of this fact.
8. If your child has been abused, you will be dealing with some hard feelings of your own. If you need it, don't hesitate to seek professional help. It is hard to help your child if you are too upset yourself.
9. If the abuse in happening in the family, seek professional help. Keeping abuse a secret helps no one, and may even cause a recurrence.
As always in cases like this, make sure to put the child's needs first. The effects that this abuse can leave on the child can be devastating, but your active support and understanding will help make the road to recovery much easier.