Friends, family & supporters:
How can you help?

Being Told About Abuse

If a child or young person has made a disclosure about sexual abuse to you, it may be difficult to hear, but it means that they have chosen you because they trust you very much. It is vital that you react in a responsible and compassionate way. Below are some helpful tips.

Do

Talk about signs you’ve noticed or respond to what they’ve told you:

  • Move to a quiet place that is free from distractions and interruptions.
  • Be calm and patient, let the child or young person go at their own pace.
  • Ask open ended questions and let the child or young person answer in their own words
  • Let the child know that telling you was brave and you’re pleased that they did.
  • Let them know that they have done nothing wrong and that you will do your best to keep them safe.
  • Use language that is easy to understand.

Don’t

The messages you send are vital, avoid blaming, minimising, or frightening the child or young person:

  • Don’t over react or say negative things about the abuser.
  • Avoid quizzing or judging the child or young person.
  • Don’t tell your child to get over it, or suggest that telling you was a problem.
  • Avoid suggesting that you blame them or yourself.
  • Avoid making promises about the future or confidentiality that you can’t keep.
  • Don’t use a purely medical approach, as this will leave the child or young person with multiple unmet needs.

You and the Child or Young Person

The child or young person’s trust has been broken in the most severe way, it’s important to remember that the bond you develop with them is a big part of their journey. Whether you’re a family, a carer or working with a child, it’s vital that you nurture a healing relationship.

Top Tips

Engage with the child or young person’s hobbies or favourite activities. This may seem small but it sends a message that what their wants are important to you. This allows for bonding as well as confidence building.

If you’re a working with the child or young person, it’s important to show that you’re consistent and dependable, by being on time and engaged.

Be open and include children and young people in decisions that affect them. Including them in their own recovery is a confidence builder and allows their sense of agency to recover after abuse.

Caring for yourself

Supporting someone who has gone through child sexual abuse can be difficult and overwhelming. There is no ‘normal’ set of emotions, but thinking about your own feelings may help you to continue supporting the survivor. Looking after yourself, by seeing a counsellor, making ‘you’ time and having a support network can help with the feelings listed below.