Every day many mothers face the awful reality of finding out that their children have been sexually abused. Most sexual abuse takes place within homes. In fact, it is usually committed by someone who is trusted by the child.
If the person who has abused your child is your partner, husband or boyfriend, you may experience a mixture of feelings. You will feel shocked, confused, disbelieving, numb, guilty, betrayed, frightened, hurt, a failure as a wife and mother, angry at him for his actions, at yourself for not being able to stop it and at your child for not telling you, worried about the consequences.
In retrospect many women say that they had a ‘gut feeling’ that something was not OK. But sexual abuse is the last thing that most people expect to be happening in their family. It is not your fault that you were not aware of it sooner.
Many women believe that their partner abused their child because they were not fulfilling his sexual needs, or because they failed as a wife and mother or that he could not control himself. But the truth is that many men who sexually abuse children are having normal sexual relationships with wives or girlfriends. The reason why men sexually abuse children is connected to their need to feel powerful and in control. It is not about sex. He is in control of his behavior and he can choose not to abuse.You are not responsible for the sexual abuse. At the time you may have been working long hours, unhappy, no longer sexually interested, but always remember that each individual is ultimately responsible for his own behavior.
Your child is not responsible for the sexual abuse. No-one ever asks to be sexually abused. It is possible for whatever reasons for a child to care for the person who is abusing them. But this does not mean that they want the abuse to happen or that they like it.
Things to do:
- Believe them
- Praise them for telling
- Try to understand why they couldn’t tell you earlier or at all
- Allow them to have as much control as possible over the decisions which are made about them
- Allow them to feel and express the whole range of feelings they may be experiencing
- Help them feel safe
- Protect them from further abuse
- Respect their secrets, don’t tell others what has happened without their permission to do so.