Sexual abuse - how parents can help their child | Better Health Channel
Better Health Channel on twitter Connect with us via Twitter and share Australia's best health and medical info with those close to you
Close survey
Sexual abuse - how parents can help their child

Summary

Parents have an important role in helping their child recover from sexual abuse. Children need ongoing support, belief and protection from parents. The most important message to get across to your child is that you do not blame them for the abuse. Parents also need care and support during a very difficult time.

Download the PDF version of this fact sheet Email this fact sheet

As a parent, you have an important role in helping your child recover from sexual abuse. There are ways to help your child and yourself through this difficult experience.

Helping your child recover from sexual abuse


Your role in helping your child recover is crucial. They will need your ongoing support, belief and protection.

It will be helpful if you try to:
  • Spend time with your child.
  • Accept that your child may be acting differently.
  • Respect your child’s wishes and be sensitive to their emotional needs.

Speaking with your child about sexual abuse


The most important message to get across to your child is that you do not blame them for the abuse.

Do:
  • Tell them you believe them.
  • Reassure and support them.
  • Tell them you do not blame them.
  • Tell them you will try to keep them safe.
  • Let them know you love them.
  • Let them know you are glad they told you.
  • Give them time to talk at their own pace.
  • Make time to spend with your child so you can talk privately.
  • Be open and clear.
  • Allow your child to talk about how they feel.
  • Try to be calm when talking with your child, as they may be confused by anger.
  • Try to understand as much as you can about the effects of child sexual abuse so that you can best support yourself and your child.
Don’t:
  • blame your child for what happened
  • suggest that it would have been better if they had not told anyone
  • tell your child that you blame yourself
  • tell your child to forget it ever happened
  • tell your child not to talk about it
  • get upset when your child talks about the abuse.

Look after yourself


This is a very difficult time and you need to take care of yourself so that you can cope and be there to help your child.

It may help if you:
  • talk to a counsellor, close friend or to other parents of children who have been sexually abused
  • look after your health
  • organise some time out for yourself.

Where to get help

  • Sexual Assault Crisis Line (Vic.) Tel. 1800 806 292 (24 hours)
  • If your family is involved with a Child Protection worker, speak to them about support services
  • Local community health centre

Things to remember

  • You have a vital role in helping your child recover from sexual abuse.
  • You are not responsible for the abuse. The abuser is the only person responsible.
  • This is an extremely difficult time, so seek help and look after your needs, as well as your child’s needs.

You might also be interested in:

Want to know more?

Go to More information for support groups, related links and references.


This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

Department of Human Services

(Logo links to further information)


Department of Human Services

Last reviewed: February 2014

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.


If you would like to link to this fact sheet on your website, simply copy the code below and add it to your page:

<a href="http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Sexual_abuse_how_parents_can_help_their_child?open">Sexual abuse - how parents can help their child - Better Health Channel</a><br/>
Parents have an important role in helping their child recover from sexual abuse. Children need ongoing support, belief and protection from parents. The most important message to get across to your child is that you do not blame them for the abuse. Parents also need care and support during a very difficult time.



Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your qualified health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residence and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

For the latest updates and more information, visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Copyight © 1999/2014  State of Victoria. Reproduced from the Better Health Channel (www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au) at no cost with permission of the Victorian Minister for Health. Unauthorised reproduction and other uses comprised in the copyright are prohibited without permission.

footer image for printing