Child sexual sexual abuse. Few suggestions for parents.

In my counselling practice past 10yrs, I have seen a number of children who are victims of child abuse from different strata. 
Children with sexual abuse don't come to the counsellor & start off with the abuse they underwent, but speak about other things like conflicts with friends or issues with family members/ teachers so on.They open up about the abuse a few sessions later after they gain the trust of the counsellor.

I would like to share experiences which impacted me deeply.

Ritu (name changed)11yrs old was a 7th std student in a Matriculation School. She was behind me most of the time discussing quarrels with her classmates. Though we found solutions together to work on her issues, she was not satisfied. During our 5th session, she spoke about the trauma she went through for years. Ritu's dad was a photographer for a political party. He had his office downstairs to their house. From her early childhood Ritu was subjected to sexual abuse by multiple people who used to attend his office. Among those was one of her paternal uncle.
She didn't know that it was sexual abuse later when she realized that she was abused, she was scared to talk about this to her dad.
As an adult who knew about her abuse I had the responsibility to convey this to her primary care giver for her safety. I called her parent for a meeting & slowly spoke to him about the trouble the child went through. He was in tears & blamed himself for his negligence and promised to help the child & keep her safe from then onwards. I had a great sigh of relief & started to work with the child with more confidence.During our 6th session was drama session were we together made paper models of  her abusers and she made a decision to hit those models with slippers to vent out her anger. I facilitated the session to enable emotional healing.
That same day when she came back home, her dad scolded & hit her badly for opening up with things which would bring down the family prestige to the counsellor.
The next day Ritu met me & told me what had happened to her & told me that her dad had asked her to meet me & say that such things didn't happen to her. As he felt that these happenings were a shame to him & his family.

What has he done to his child?

I am suggesting few things to parents to help your kids:

Parents should have a good rapport with their children. Only when they find the trust in you they will come & open up their difficulties. If your child opens up about her/his abuse kindly listen to them first. I know how painful it is to digest such things as a parent but this is the time where you need to be stronger to help your child. Take strict action against the abuser if he is someone in your known circle don't hide it to save your family prestige because your child is more important. Reassure the child that s/he has not done anything wrong & it was the abuser's fault and not the child's. Children might develop  lot of guilt after being abused. Take your child to a trained Counsellor/Psychologist who will help your child deal with the trauma.

Swathi Priya. P
Counselling Psychologist

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