Whatever is revealed by a child who has been victimized, reassure them that you love them and that you are committed to helping them. Recognize that many children are not able to tell about what happened, or may take back or “recant” their disclosure of abuse when questioned by authorities or other adults. Children will look to adults for reassurance that they will be all right, especially if they feel that the world around them is in chaos. Keep reminding yourself that healing for everyone is possible.
Anyone who is harming a child sexually also needs help and guidance to stop the behavior. Sometimes, in the most serious cases and depending upon the age of the person who has been abusive, reporting may result in legal consequences. Although this can be a difficult process for everyone involved, when combined with specialized treatment, it may be the best way to prevent further harm and even harsher future consequences.
Reporting the abuse to authorities is an upsetting prospect for many families. Yet, filing a report can be a first step to accessing support services. Children who are abused and their families need help to recover from their trauma. Adults, children and youth frequently respond best to specialized, sex-specific treatment when it is offered early and with the support of trusted adults. Sexual abuse affects all members of a family or group. The entire family, including the adults, is likely to need support.