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How Can I Lessen the Impact of Child Sexual Abuse?

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If you have discovered that your child has been sexually abused, you will want to know what you can do to lessen the impact of what has happened to them. If you are an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you also may want to take steps to lessen the symptoms you are experiencing.

All too often, children are abused by the people they know. In fact, that is the case in more than 90% of all instances of child sexual abuse. Many times, the abuser is a member of the clergy or religious group.

Young Survivors

If the abuse victims is still young, then you as the parent or guardian have a valuable role to play. First, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Immediately acknowledge what your child has told you and believe what they are saying. It is rare for a child to make false allegations of sexual abuse.
  • Let them know that they did nothing wrong. A child is never to blame for sexual abuse that occurs to them, regardless of their age.
  • Stay calm at all times. Yes, this is stressful and upsetting for you as a parent, but your child needs you to be calm. This will ensure they know they did nothing wrong and encourage them to continue talking to you about the abuse.
  • Children need to feel loved, valued, and protected at all times.
  • Be with them throughout the reporting process. Be patient at all times. Your child may experience night trauma. They may cry and scream. Do not get angry. Just be there to reassure them that you are not going anywhere.
  • Recognize that healing can take years, and there will be advances and setbacks.

After you make a report to authorities, you should find a qualified child counselor or psychologist who specializes in treating survivors of child sexual abuse. Because so many survivors of childhood sexual abuse experience emotional and psychological problems into adulthood, the sooner they receive counseling, the better.

Your child should have an environment where they can discuss and explore what happened to them on their own terms. Early treatment will lead to better adulthood outcomes.

Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

If you are a childhood sexual abuse survivor and are now an adult, you also need to know where to turn for help. Every case is different, and no two sexual abuse survivors go through the same range of symptoms at the same time in their lives. Some childhood sexual abuse victims experience emotional and psychological trauma from the moment the abuse occurs throughout their entire lives. Others may not experience any symptoms until much later in life.

Some of the most common symptoms of abuse that occur in adulthood include:

  • Fear and anxiety towards anyone who bears characteristics to the abuser
  • Difficulty in adult/intimate relationships
  • Difficulty in sexual functions
  • Eating and body disorders
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Feelings of powerlessness

Many victims of childhood sexual abuse do not even realize they have been abused until much later in life. This could be because they were so young when the abuse happened that they forgot. It could also be because their brain pushed the traumatic experience to the deepest recesses of their minds. Regardless of when a person discovers they have been abused, or whether they never forgot the abuse, adult survivors should seek counseling to work through the experience.

Adult child sexual abuse survivors should also consider securing an injury attorney about their options for seeking justice. While nothing can erase what happened, holding the abuser accountable could bring some closure to the situation.