Future Relationships

After a mother experiences the sexual abuse of a child, she may find it more difficult to trust. Many variables can affect the disruption of trust, including:
  • Identity of the perpetrator
  • Where the abuse took place - whether she was in close proximity
  • How long the abuse occurred
  • Her child's recovery process
  • Her own recovery process
  • Whether she received blame from others, family, friends, or professionals
  • Current relationship with the abuser 
  • Her current relationship with child victim
  • Self-esteem 
  • Cues and triggers related to the abuse 
  • Personal, psychological, and familial factors

The identity of the abuser is the most salient factor affecting trust. If the abuse was perpetrated by an intimate partner, she will experience the betrayal of her child's trust and the betrayal of intimate trust. Depending on the abuser's power over her and his statements to her, she may be convinced that she is flawed or shares responsibility for the abuse. If she was in the home when the abuse occurred, she will replay scenarios trying to determine where she was and how she could not have known. 

If the mother divorces and later decides to repartner or remarry, all the above factors will influence her ability to engage in a healthy, trusting relationship. If she has received counseling, processed through grief and betrayal issues, this will be a substantial help. She and a potential partner would do well to seek counseling so that her partner can increase awareness of the family dynamics and areas of risk. Together they can plan for difficult times and how to manage them. 

Some of the areas that may be negatively impacted:

  • Sexual intimacy with new partner
  • Partner's behavior with child: familiar or overfamiliar, touch, communication
  • Bath and shower times
  • Bedtimes
  • Early mornings
  • Leaving him alone with child
  • Sharing responsibility for child care

Mothers whose children have been sexually abused may view the world as a less safe place. This is a natural response to trauma. They may view partners with less trust. This is also a normal response. How you manage these thoughts and feelings will impact your ability to engage in meaningful relationships. Group and individual counseling are helpful in the processes of extending trust in new relationships and in discussing feelings in a safe place.  



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