Sexual abuse is a scary truth that can’t be ignored

Published 10:16 am Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lana Hollerud
Crime Victims Resource Center

Child sexual abuse affects families in our community. A 2005 study by the CDC estimates that one in four girls and one in six boys face some sort of sexual abuse. This is a scary statistic, and as parents and caregivers it is important to know how to react if your child should tell you that this has been their experience.

The two most important things a parent, or anyone with whom a child feels safe enough to talk to, can do is to stay calm and to believe the child, and not react in a way that makes the child feel ashamed for talking about what happened to them. The parent or adult should resist the temptation to ask a lot of questions, but instead listen to all the child has to say and then thank the child for telling and assure them that they have done nothing wrong and the adults will do everything in their power to prevent the sexual abuse from happening again.

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It is not uncommon for a child who has told about being sexually abused to try to “take back” what they’ve said, to say it never happened. Although it might be a relief for a parent to think that maybe nothing actually happened but, unfortunately, it is more likely that the child who tries to recant was telling the truth originally. They may be finding it difficult to deal with the consequences of telling — not being believed, losing a family member or their home — and feel if they say it didn’t happen things will go back to the way they were before.

After the initial shock of learning that one’s child has been sexually assaulted in some manner wears off, a parent might be inclined to suggest to their child that they try to forget about what happened and not dwell on it, especially If the child does not have any outward symptoms of distress or acting out. In the long run this may not be the wisest course of action; sexual assault victims who do not work through the trauma of their victimization can suffer long-term adverse mental and physical health effects.

If you would like more information on what your options are should your child or a child you care for disclose they have experienced sexual assault call and speak with an advocate at the Crime Victims Resource Center, 507-437-6680. All of our services are provided free of charge due to grant monies received from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety — Office of Justice Programs, the Hormel Foundation and Mower County United Way.

The Crime Victims Resource Center is available to provide advocacy and support to any crime victim in Mower County. As always, our services are provided free of charge. Please call 507 437-6680 for more information on the Crime Victim’s Resource Center.