Respond to Child Sexual Abuse
First Steps After Your Child Has Disclosed
Ongoing Support to Encourage Healing from Sexual Abuse
Suspecting or discovering that your child has been sexually abused can be devastating. If you find yourself in this situation, you understand firsthand the questions and concerns you have, not to mention the emotional toll. No one should have to go through this alone—not you and not your child. At Defend Innocence, we work hard to provide the support, resources, and good information you need to help you and your child find hope and healing.
Our Approach to Response When Child Sexual Abuse Has Already Occurred
You’ve already taken one of the most important steps in helping your child heal from sexual abuse—believing them.
There are additional things you can do to help them process and heal from the trauma of sexual abuse as well as reduce its long-term impacts. At Defend Innocence, our approach to responding when abuse has occurred is comprehensive: we believe that proactive parents, who respond effectively when abuse has occurred are more likely to raise capable kids who are able to cope with the trauma that has occurred because of the support they receive. Additionally, parents of a child who has experienced sexual abuse understand and teach age-appropriate information about sex, recognizing that early exposure to sexual activity through abuse may disrupt the child’s perception of sexuality, the body, or both. Each section of our resource library focuses on one of these areas and gives you tips, tools, and information that can help you take little actions every day that will yield big benefits for you and your child.
A strong parent-child relationship is critical in reducing the risk of revictimization and helping child sexual abuse survivors heal.
This section of our website is all about you; there are things you can know, do, or be that can provide a good example for your child, help strengthen your relationship with them, build your own resilience, and manage the feelings you have as a parent. You can also identify potential risk factors that every parent should consider when it comes to keeping their kids safe.
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Children who feel safe, loved, and confident in their abilities to learn and navigate challenges, and are able to identify to whom they can turn to when they need help are less likely to be revictimized and more likely to develop better coping strategies.
A child who has been sexually abused may feel as though their autonomy has been stripped away. So this section of our website is all about your child and helping them increase feelings of independence, resilience, and confidence. As you focus on restoring your child’s sense of safety and strength, refer to these practical tips to nurture your child’s confidence, establish and communicate boundaries, and increase their emotional well-being.
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Parents who understand healthy sexual development and have correct information about age-appropriate stages are better prepared to teach their children essential information about sexuality.
And children who have consistent conversations with their parents about their bodies, sex, relationships, and intimacy—especially as it relates to their early exposure to sexual activity through abuse—are more likely to understand that the abuse was not their fault. This understanding is a critical part of helping them experience long-term healing. Additionally, these consistent conversations may reduce the risk of abuse reoccurring, as well as reduce the risk that your child sexually harms another individual. This section of our website provides the “whats” and “hows” for approaching conversations, explains stages of sexual development and potential impacts after abuse has occurred, addresses when behavior is concerning, and identifies best practices for safety in online environments.
We’re in This Together
We understand that it can be hard to feel hopeful knowing what your child has been through. We share in your frustration and believe that no child should ever have to deal with the effects of child sexual abuse. But we also have a strong belief in the power of supportive parents and caregivers; you can make a positive difference in your child’s long-term healing. We also recommend seeking out professional help for your child, as the earlier an intervention is offered the sooner healing can begin. As a unified team working for the best interest of your child, we can reduce the impact of child sexual abuse and help to build a brighter future.
You may also be interested in visiting The Younique Foundation to view our collection of resources for adult survivors (and supporters) of child sexual abuse.
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