Understanding Disclosure and Tips on How to Respond

Why is it Difficult for Some Children to Tell?

There are many reasons children do not disclose abuse.

  • Children are taught to obey adults.
  • Developmental differences – the child may not know the words that describe the abuse, have difficulty understanding the event, be mixed up about the time and location, and may confuse reality and fantasy.
  • Confusion about appropriate touches.
  • Fear of parent’s anger or blame.
  • Fear of the consequences or that they will not be believed.
  • Fear of loss of privileges.
  • Guilt for feeling pleasure.
  • Fear of threats made by the perpetrator.

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 anyone to do, especially children. Kids cannot always sort the differences between your anger about what they have experienced 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, family, or hotline counselors. Anyone who is a part of your support system.

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