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Support for Families

Finding out that your child may have been sexually abused is one of the most devastating, unthinkable events a parent can experience. CARI provides parents with a safe space to speak about the unspeakable, and they are offered support in dealing with their own feelings. In supporting the parents, we are also supporting the child.

How Parents May Be Affected:

  • Overwhelmed by shock, anger, confusion or disbelief
  • Feel judged.
  • Feel they are not being a good enough parent
  • Feel unsafe
  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Anxiety
  • Grief and loss

How Children May Be Affected:

It can be helpful for parents to understand how children/adolescents are affected as child sexual abuse can impact each one differently. Your child/adolescent may show:

  • Extremely anxious
  • Fearful
  • Clingy
  • Reverting to a much younger behaviour
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Confusion
  • Feel betrayed
  • Feel ashamed or embarrassed
  • Fear of closeness with others
  • Stomach aches or/and headaches
  • Nightmares
  • Problems sleeping
  • Panic attack
  • Changes in appetite (e.g. under- or over-eating), and
  • Little or no reaction, as they are not able to understand that what is happening to them is abuse and do not have the language to communicate.
Long-term impacts the child MAY experience:
  • Depression
  • Self-harming/suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Flashbacks and panic attacks
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Low self-esteem and/or lack of confidence
  • Obsessive behaviours
  • Marked changes in personality or behaviour
  • They may display developmentally inappropriate sexual behaviours
  • Some older children may also misuse drugs or alcohol.

Not Telling

Some children don’t tell about the abuse for many different reasons.

  • Fear of getting into trouble
  • The person who abused them is a family member or someone close to them and they are worried about what will happen if they tell
  • They are being threatened or coercively been told not to tell
  • Groomed to feel they were special
  • The abuser tells the child their family knows and they won’t be listened to
  • They think the abuse is their fault
  • The person who abused them may have told them they were a willing participant and the child feels ashamed
  • Abuse was made into a game, which children may not have understood or had the language to relate,  due to their age and stage of development
  • Feel they will not be believed
  • Confusion around how their bodies reacted to the sexual abuse.

CARI can help families to:

  • Understand what their child/adolescent needs and what the impact is on the whole family
  • Understand and recognise trauma symptoms
  • Cope with the daily activities
  • Promote secure attachment between the parents/carers and the child or adolescent
  • Support the emotional resilience of the parent/carer
  • Improve communication and connection within the whole family
  • Increase the confidence of parents to respond if their child shows challenging behaviours
  • Build family resilience for the future