Sexual violence, including rape, assault, and unwanted experiences, can have long-lasting and devastating effects on survivors. It not only affects their physical and mental well-being but also strains their social relationships. Survivors may experience nightmares, flashbacks, drug abuse, isolation, and chronic pain. In the case of child sexual abuse, many people underestimate the impact, believing it to be minor incidents that the child will simply “get over” as they grow up. However, the truth is that such abuse can leave deep scars on a child’s life, particularly if they do not receive appropriate healing and support during their childhood.
It is crucial to understand that each child reacts to sexual abuse differently. Some may withdraw and become non-communicative, while others may display aggressive or violent behavior. Helping a child through this difficult time requires a combination of resilience and support. While children possess a remarkable capacity for resilience, their healing journey often demands dedicated efforts from both the child and the parent or caregiver.
To strengthen a child’s mental health and aid in their healing process, there are strategies that can be employed. These strategies aim to foster resilience and promote well-being. By implementing these approaches, parents and caregivers can play a vital role in supporting their child’s recovery from the trauma of sexual abuse:
Help Them Reconnect With Their Body
Believe it or not, your child’s mental health has a lot to do with their physical well-being. Child sexual abuse survivors often feel disconnected with their bodies, in ways we don’t understand. You need to make sure that the child is no longer scared of their own body and embraces how it feels. There are several ways you can do that, for instance;
- Encourage Them To Do Physical Exercise
Physical exercise releases hormones that makes you feel good. Incorporate an hour of physical exercise in their daily routine, be it working out, playing outdoors, breathing exercises, or muscle relaxation, and help them manage anxiety and build a connection with their body, again.
- Maintain A Healthy Diet
Make sure that your child is eating healthy. Add a lot of fruits and vegetables to their diet and encourage them to drink water,
- Maintain A Healthy Sleep Schedule
It can be difficult for the child to get good sleep, hence make sure that you plan a proper sleep schedule, encouraging them to sleep and rest well.
Find Things They Enjoy
Recovering from sexual abuse can be strange. Your child may no longer want to play or participate in activities that they once did. Despite of how difficult it is at first, try to find things that how to overcome the trauma of sexual abuse your child enjoys, and participate in them. Even if it is just for a small amount of time, play and have fun with your child. You can plan a campaigning trip, take them to watch a movie, or read them a book. This will help them get over their trauma faster and be fearless in the face of adversity.
Help Them Make Friends
Sexual trauma can make your child feel isolated and lonely. To overcome this loneliness, you need to make sure that your child has friends. Take them out on playdates and help them feel more connected. This will distract them from their trauma and encourage them to talk about their feelings with their friends.
Recovering from child sexual abuse can take time. It is not a linear journey and hence every day is a different experience. However, with practice, determination and help, you can strengthen your child’s mental health and promote resilience. The above strategies will help you do so. If you need professional assistance, get in touch with Sanaa’s Stars. Our organization provides a safe and nurturing environment for children to help them heal and become resilient, through various therapeutic approaches.