Talking to an Abused Child

What To Do....

Your very first task is to keep your natural reactions under control. Children need to know that you believe them, and will support them! They need reassurance that they are not causing your anger, disbelief, and sadness. Avoid saying things such as “Oh no… that can’t be” or “ I don’t believe it.” It’s especially wise to keep your violent reactions to yourself or to share them only with other supportive adults.

Do your best not to alert the alleged offender about the disclosure.  Call the local police or DCFS hotline at 1-800-252-2873 to make a report.

Find people to support you who understand that you did not “allow” your child to be sexually abused. There may be some unpleasant surprises especially when the abuser is a close family friend or family member. Also be prepared in case your other children may have been abused. Sometimes siblings will blame the child who reported the abuse for the family disruption and stress.

What to Say…

  • I believe you and I’m glad you told me.

  • This has happened to other kids. Nothing you did made it happen.

  • I’ll do my best to protect you now that I know.

  • I’m not sure what will happen next, but I’ll tell you when I know.

  • I am really upset, but I’m not upset with you!

Reassure your child he/she is not in any trouble. The interview will be in a safe and friendly environment at the Child Advocacy Center. Explain to your child that the interviewer will ask him/her some questions and if he/she doesn’t understand what the interviewer asks, just say so. Encourage your child to simply answer the interviewer’s questions as well as he/she can.

What NOT to Do or Say…

  • Don’t restrict your child’s play or other normal activities any more than you must for your own peace of mind and the child's safety. If you keep the child from playing outside, he may feel like he’s being punished.

  • Don’t be afraid to let your child “cling” to you for a few days.

  • Don’t ask probing questions about the details of the abuse, and don’t ask why he didn’t tell sooner.

  • Don’t say things such as “Oh no… that can’t be” or “ I don’t believe it.”

  • Don’t expect or tell the child to “forget it”.

 Share this information with any other adults who have contact with your child.

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