SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- 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.
Helping your child recover from sexual abuse
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.
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 the abuse is not their fault.
- Tell them you believe them.
- Reassure and support them.
- Tell them it’s not their fault this happened to 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 any anger, even if the anger is directed elsewhere.
- 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.
- Convey to your child that they can tell you anything, even when it’s hard for them to say or for you to hear.
- 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, 7 days)
- 1800 RESPECT (Australia). Tel. 1800 737 732
- Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault Tel. 03 9635 3600 (24 hours, 7 days)
- If your family is involved with a Child Protection worker, speak to them about support services
- Local community health centre
- Responding to sexual abuse, Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, Victorian Government.
- How to make a report to Child Protection, Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, Victorian Government.
- Hunter C, 2011, Responding to children and young people’s disclosures of abuse, Australian Institute of Family Studies, National Child Protection Clearinghouse.