Healing is a unique and personal journey that varies in duration for different individuals. It is important to understand that the length of time someone takes to overcome trauma does not determine their strength. People from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, or race, can experience vulnerability to different forms of trauma, such as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. While each type takes a toll on both mental and physical health, this blog specifically focuses on child sexual abuse and offers guidance on how to support survivors on their path to healing.
Child sexual abuse can have profound and enduring effects, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. If childhood trauma is not adequately addressed, individuals may face complex and disruptive challenges in their adult lives. However, there is hope. By offering peer support, seeking professional help, and showing compassion, we can contribute to preventing these negative consequences.
If you are aware of a child who has experienced sexual abuse, here are several ways you can provide support. It’s crucial to remember that each person’s healing journey is unique, necessitating patience at all times.
Understand the Impact of Trauma
A child sexual abuse survivor might act differently than how they used to. This behavior could seem difficult or challenging, but in reality, it is the trauma that is making them act in a certain way. Understating the impact of trauma is perhaps the first step in supporting a child who has gone through this experience. Learn how to separate the behavior from who the child is and what they need, so you can support them better.
Believe the Child
Even if you are overwhelmed and have a lot of questions, believe what your child is telling you. This is perhaps where support starts from. If you do not believe them and disregard their experience and feelings, they will question and ultimately blame themselves for what happened. You need to make sure that you provide them the support they need in order rebuild their ability to trust others.
Children may not always openly tell you what they have experienced or are experiencing, due to fear, which is why you need to pay close attention to warning signs of child sexual abuse. They may look like; not wanting to be around specific adults, keeping secrets from you, no longer being interested in things that they once loved doing, etc. There is a pattern pf disclosure that you cannot miss if you want to support your child in their healing journey.
Give Them a Choice
Children already have very little autonomy in their lives; they are often told by adults what to do and how to do. On top of that, when a child is sexually abused, their autonomy and agency are further violated. You need to make sure that you give them a choice in how they want to navigate their healing proves. This means that they should have a say in who they would talk to, where and when things would happen etc.
Sexual abuse can create serious trust issues within children, because unfortunately, in most cases, perpetrators are people survivors knew and trusted. Hence, when you help your child in their healing journey, make sure you reassure them that you are there, validate their feelings and let them know that the abuse was not their fault, Looking for professional help? Get in touch with Sanaa’s Stars; a charitable organization committed to healing children who have suffered from the trauma of sexual abuse. So, help us fight abuse and create a safe world for children