When I get a referral call from someone who just found out their child is a victim, they’re in shock and terrified. They don’t know what to ask, or where to begin.
No one goes looking for the answers to this question until you have someone you love to help. It’s no more fun to read “How to help my child recover from sexual assault” than it would be to research a cure to a disease you often hear of, but never plan to get.
But this is the only resource out there written by a recovered family TO families looking to not only survive, but thrive after the effects of sexual assault. I’m telling you – you’re in the right place. So What can you do NOW to help your children? Right now?
The number one goal is to remember “This is not an emergency.” – It certainly feels like it is. Your body is giving you every sign it is & every single person wants to immediately remove the predator from existence. But, as long as you can protect your child from being around the predator, it’s not an emergency.
But what if you’re not sure who it is? Then your world just became very small. In our home, we protected the kids from relatives, church members, any outside activities until they were ready to speak their truth. It’s a sacrifice, for sure, but our children needed the security of not being re-exposed to the predator to feel safe enough to speak their truth.
And that is the only emergency you’re dealing with. As hard as it is, and I know I was only able to do it with God’s help, you must make the days as normal as you can. While you’re doing this, I do have some tips to help you get through the first stages of pain.
1. Prevent the kids from acting out sexually on one another. Direct supervision, keeping their clothes on (littles love to strip, but now you must thwart that) & train everyone who is on duty with your kiddos to keep them in sight at all times. ALL times.This level of hypervigilance is exhausting, but absolutely necessary.
2. If you have cable or unsupervised internet or the kids have smart phones or other devices, it’s time to remove that access. Their doorway has been jerked open and so many images and words and oversexualized situations are rushing in on them already, have mercy on them and remove everything else to give them space to process. Yes, this includes peer interaction. From this point forward, you’re protecting your victim from establishing a co-dependent broken series of relationships that will likely guide them to destructive behaviors until they reach survivor status and can be drawn to healthy relationships, again. That will take years. Protect your kids, no matter the age.
3. When old routines must be removed, because of these changes, establish new ones that bring your family together. You’re going to have to learn to cling to one another and find your comfort there. It could be very difficult at times – it WILL be very difficult at times – but this is one of the amazing rewards on the other side of the pain. Don’t foresake it and lose your family in the walk through the pain. You need each other!
4. If you haven’t already, begin the legal process. Quietly walk through it and listen much more than you speak.
5. And once that has begun, you will all need to be in counseling. It could take many tries to find the right counselor. Don’t use a bad match as an excuse to quit & don’t take no for an answer from any family member. If they had cancer, would you take no for an answer? Saying no to counseling in this situation is tantamount to emotional death for your child and possibly family relationships. Just do it.
None of this is easy, but the reward is sweet, with healed and whole children in a secure, family unit. If that’s your goal, now you have a map to get there. I KNOW you can do it!
NOT Destroyed Mom