There are many things children tell and want to tell. However, what their young brain finds hard to comprehend is when an unusual thing happens to them and they have have no idea what to do. Of course, while their first instinct is to report to their parents or a guardian or an adult they like, they may back down because of various reasons.
Sexual abuse is an alarming issue that affects countless children worldwide, yet it often remains hidden and unreported. One of the most perplexing aspects of this heinous crime is why a child may choose to stay silent about their abuse.
Understanding the reasons behind a child’s silence is crucial to effectively addressing and preventing sexual abuse. So, let’s delve into the complex dynamics that contribute to a child’s reluctance to disclose their traumatic experiences.
By shedding light on these factors, we hope to raise awareness and empower individuals and communities to protect and support victims of sexual abuse.
Now, why might a child keep their experiences of sexual abuse to themselves?
This is because they:
- may worry that they’re going to disappoint their parents
- may feel embarrassed or ashamed
- feel they won’t be believed
- are potentially confused about what’s happening
- may that things will get worse if they tell someone
- have been shamed or threatened into keeping the abuse secret
- love or trust the abuser and be afraid of getting them into trouble.
So, then how do I encourage my child to open up about sexual abuse?
It can be incredibly challenging to help a child who has experienced sexual abuse but has not spoken up about it. Even if you have noticed physical or other signs of abuse, you may feel helpless since you cannot help them until they speak up.
A way to approach this delicate topic is by openly and honestly talking about sexual abuse.
Yeah, you heard that right. A lot of the times, we shy away from sensitive subjects like these because we might think our child(ren) is(are) to young to know.
However, what we fail to realize is that if they do not learn from home, someone will teach them outside. So, openly talking about sexual abuse will help your child understand that what is or was done to them is not acceptable.
Assure them that you are always on their side; that what happened to them was not their fault; that you believe them; and that you will help them. No matter how old they are, they need assurance from their trusted adult, and that is YOU. That SHOULD be you.
Remember, you’re here to listen and support them through anything.
Encouraging a young child to not stay silent about their sexual abuse can be more effective if you get them to describe their feelings with questions.
For instance, “where do you feel sore/upset?” or “when did you feel sore/upset?” You can also encourage your child to draw or act out feelings if they have a disability or truly are unable to form words to describe their experience.
If your child is a teenager, you could say, “I can see you’re dealing with something. And I’ve been wondering what’s bothering you”. Your child might prefer talking to another trusted adult other than you. You could ask him or her, “Is there someone you can talk to?”
After you’ve encouraged your child to talk, your child might say some things or ask you some questions. Whatever they say, focus on setting your feelings aside and making it all about their well-being. And, please, be patient with them, and do your best to get to the root of the issue.
Keep in mind that if your children can’t come to about the little things, they won’t be able to come to you for the big things. So, how do you treat them? How do you comfort them? What is your relationship with them like? How do you talk to them?
Don’t forget to report whatever stories or experiences of sexual abuse to the authorities. Reporting sexual crimes will help in preventing future children from being taken advantaged of.
Having your child share their bad experiences, including experiences like sexual abuse, all comes down to having a healthy relationship with them.
While it’s heartbreaking to know that their are countless child predators out there targeting children, as young as less than five years, what’s more heartbreaking is that there are still many more.
Education starts from home. How do you relate with your child(ren)? Can they come to you about anything?
A healthy relationship with your child(ren) can go a long way to prevent child sexual abuse. So as a parent or guardian, strive to be more intentional about your relationship with your children. #eliminatestayingsilentaboutchildsexualabuse.
If you haven’t already, be sure to grab a copy of Reve-Healed. It’s definitely worth checking out!