May 18, 2012

Child Sexual Abuse contd..

Children who have been sexually abused suffer severe trauma or damages, which can be physical, mental, emotional or psychological. The trauma may last a lifetime if the process of healing does not take place. Sexually transmitted disease or HIV or pregnancy at an early age can be some of the disastrous outcomes of child sexual abuse.
With the family support system getting destroyed, the child can face social isolation and social stigmatisation. Very often, the child is blamed for being sexually exploited- for “affecting the honour of the family”. The child is made to feel guilty for what happened and a deep sense of worthlessness develops. Often when the abuser is the father or the breadwinner of the family, the child is pressurized by the mother or the family to keep quiet, and is instead blamed or accused of lying. All these are part of denial process. Children may also feel powerless, angry, frightened and lonely. Depression, isolation and self-destructiveness are also some of the short and long term impacts of sexual abuse.

Things to Do when Child is Abused Sexually
  1. Believe the child. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse.
  2. Commend the child for telling you about the experience.
  3. Assure the child that you will protect him or her.
  4. Convey your support for the child. A child's greatest fear is that they are at fault and responsible for the incident. Alleviating this self-blame is of paramount importance.
  5. Temper your own reaction. Your greatest challenge is not to convey your horror, anger or any hysteria about the abuse. Over reactions make children wish they hadn't told Tell your child that you will work with him/her regarding his/her feelings about the incident. Seek professional help if you feel ill equipped to do this.
  6. Do not take any steps against the abuser without first informing your child about them and seeing how he/she feels about them. This will depend on the age of the child involved.
  7. Do not begin to impose restrictions on your child as a result of the abuse i.e. not going out anymore etc. These will make the child feel that she/he is being punished for something that was not their fault.
  8. Without trivializing your child's experience let him/her know that lots of children are sexually abused and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.

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