Responding to a child’s disclosure
Filter your natural reactions of expressions of anger, shock, and horror
Disclosing abuse is one of the hardest things for a child to do. Kids cannot always sort the differences between your anger and anger towards them. IN the presence of the child, we suggest remaining calm and to focus on listening. Later, when you are away from the child, you can express your feelings with adult friends or family who are supportive.
Do not condemn the abuser
When child sexual abuse happens, children usually know the abuser: it’s often a close relationship, and sometimes it includes love. Our view is that it is better to condemn the behavior of the abuser rather than person, so that the child is not questioning why they liked (or loved) the person. Abusers are manipulative. Many abused children experience blame for what occurred, especially if it the abuser was someone they trusted.
Keep your promises and stated expectations realistic
For instance, saying to the child, “We are going to find them and lock them up forever” is unrealistic. The conviction and sentencing rates for sexual assault or rape remain are pretty low. Predicting any kind of legal outcome is not a good idea; otherwise, the child may feel as if she/he did something wrong if the abuser is not prosecuted.