While they are no sure ways to TOTALLY protect your child or ward from the chances of being sexually abused or even raped, there is ALOT you can do to reduce those chances. Many victims didn’t ‘expected’ it when it happened, even when they ‘know’, as children there is not much they can do especially if the abuser is someone very familiar to them and someone they trust and look up to. When an adult (parent or guardian) is not watching out for the child, the abuser gets away. The child grows to become a hurting and bitter adult.
Not all children/teenagers will exihibit same signs and some will never admit been abused especially when they have been sexually active for a long time and if the abuser has threatened to hurt them if they speak. Of if the abuser gives the child money or gifts. Some of these signs includes;
- Shyness/timidness. Although not all shy/timid child indicate being sexually abused.
- A disposition of “I am a bad girl/boy” or “I am not good enough”. He/she sees him/herself as not just violated but‘filth’ compared to other kids that may have not had same experience.
- Self-consciousness especially when with the opposite sex. The memory is almost constantly present once alone with the opposite sex.
- Some suddenly become ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’; displaying sudden maturity.
- Withdrawal sometimes resulting from a drop in academic performance and the fear of someone knowing what is going on.
- They fantasize and day dream alot especially of the experience. Often looking lost.
- Girls become terrified by the presense of a male (especially an older one). Some can even hate their brothers or men in general.
- Afraid to go home or hates going home, or hates family members especially if the child lives with the abuser. Or if the abuser is a neighbour or lives in the neighbourhood.
- Some teens become unruly and display disregard for their parents especially if the child feels the parents is anyway responsible for the abuse.
What Counselors and Parents need to know and do
- Overcome YOUR OWN fears of talking to your child/children/ward about sex. Teaching your child about sex is a responsibility of BOTH mummy and daddy or the adult in whose custody the child is in.
- Teach and practise godly principles; don’t just talk about it. Remind the child what it means to live ‘pleasing to God’ and why we should ‘present our bodies as holy and living sacrifice unto God’.
- Do not beat, threaten or punish the child even if you believe the child ‘enjoys’ it. They are already in a truama don’t make it worse.
- If a child makes a complain take it seriously, investigate without inflicting blames on him/her and give him/her a reassurance that you are doing something about it. Then TRY TO REALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. If she tells you and you do nothing, she may hate you more than the abuser.
- Watch out for their safety. Once they have opened up to you, they look up to you for ‘protection’. They have become your responsibility. Don’t bruise the child’s confidence in you.
- Talk to them like you do really UNDERSTAND what they are going through or what they went through and encourage them to talk. If they can talk about it, the easier it becomes for you to deal with and easier too for them to get it over with.
- Teach them boundaries. Emphasize the NO-GO-AREAS and teach them how to say “NO!”.
- If a girl is not comfortable being in a group task with boys, do not force her and vice versa.
- As much as possible provide for your child and teach them CONTENTMENT and discipline. If the child can be tricked with food or money, he/she will be lured with such.
- Cultivate open and direct talks about sex with your child/children/ward.
- If a child is not willing to talk, do not force it. Give the child some time. Or attend to it some other time. Be very observant.
- Be accommodating and interested when they ask questions about sex. Never assume they are ignorant or not old enough.
- For younger kids, keep emphasizing that certain areas (mention them) of the body are PRIVATE and should be treated as such.
- Give body parts names they can comfortably and openly mention when talking to you
- Follow up. When counseling a child, endeavour to check how he/she is doing. Most children fall victim a second time when no adult is watching out for them.
- Sex talks with wards/children should be as regular as possible until the child trust you enough to tell you anything happening intimately that may need your attention
- Pray continually for every child in your custody. If/when possible mention names.
Loving A Sexually Abused Child
Being sexually abused can be a very traumatic experience for an adult let alone a child/teenager and a victim needs as much love as possible to get over the experience. When unattended to some teens become depressed, run away from home, become unruly and even contemplate suicide.
- Understand and accept that it is not their fault.
- Do not treat them differently from the rest of the children. They have not suddenly become aliens.
- It is not advisable to tell the rest of the siblings what happened, except in situation where siblings are old enough, can handle the situation and empathise with the child. Keep the ‘secret’ between you and the child to yourself.
- Speak loving words and encouragement as often as possible to regain the child’s self esteem.
Culled from my book, AVOIDING AND OVERCOMING SEXUAL ABUSE FOR YOUNG ADULTS
To reach me for prayer, counseling or just to vent email firstname.lastname@example.org