Long Term Consequences to Mothers

Mothers of sexually abused children will react emotionally to the disclosure and go through a grief process. They may initially be shocked and experience denial. They may also feel anger, hurt, grief, disappointment, anxiety, fear,  guilt, shame, betrayal, embarrassment, and humiliation. Their thought processes will also be chaotic and may hold confusion, ambivalence , thoughts of revenge, and doubt in conflict with beliefTelling herself the truth is a process, taking time, and is common with other grief and trauma experiences. Stress following the disclosure will affect her body, brain/mind, and immune system

Mothers will also face consequences that will significantly impact and disrupt their lives. Some of these consequences ongoing through months and years. If the perpetrator was the mother's husband or partner, the consequences may include:
  • Loss of partner - Partner may be removed from home or mother must send from home and family.
  • Loss of child - Child may be removed into Protective Custody or to family member for safety.
  • Loss of support - Family members and friends may not understand and will criticize or blame the mother.
  • Loss of Loss of self-esteem and reputation - Self-esteem is mother's perspective and reputation, the perspective of community and social group. Both may be negatively affected by disclosure.
  • Isolation - Mother may feel completely alone. Others may not understand. She may feel targeted, blamed, and isolated.
  • Guilt and self-blame - If the abuse occurred in the home, mothers may continue to blame themselves and have feelings of responsibility. They may question how they did not suspect or how they married a sex offender.
  • Loss of financial security - Family income may be negatively affected.If the perpetrator is the father, family income may be reduced or completely lost. Additional expenses are also incurred, such as legal fees and counseling.
  • Work life - If mother works, she may experience conflicts with work schedule due to abuse-related appointments. Work performance may deteriorate due to stress and stress response.

Others consequences are both immediate and long term. They include:

The extent of consequences felt by mothers will depend on a number of factors. These include: identity of the perpetrator, relationship to perpetrator, severity and extent of sexual abuse, mother's use of healthy coping skills, available support for mother, whether child is removed from home, and other issues such as preexisting addiction and mental health disorders.


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