For most children who have been abused, getting help from a specialized professional with a background in working with children who have been sexually abused can be very helpful. Certainly the specific situation of abuse must be considered in determining the urgency of finding a professional: was it a close family member or friend; was it ongoing; how has it affected the child’s emotional or physical health. If you’re not sure if your child needs or is ready for treatment, make an appointment with a therapist to get a professional opinion about how your child is doing. Healing from child sexual abuse is a process that takes time. By giving your child loving support and getting them appropriate treatment, you can strengthen your child’s potential to heal and to increase their likelihood of successful recovery.
Helping a child heal often requires a combination of loving support from trusted adults and the help of a trained therapist or counselor. Yet some parents may be embarrassed or fearful of turning to outside help. Others may not want to have their child see a treatment provider because they’re afraid that “harping” on the abuse will make the child feel worse. These feelings are completely understandable, but the effects of child sexual abuse can be far-reaching and last into adulthood if a child isn’t offered professional support along with family support and the chance to safely express their response to their experience.
When no helpful interventions are offered to a child who has suffered sexual abuse there are many difficulties that can emerge or unfold over time. Without essential recovery support, children and adult survivors may face these challenges: