For a mother, knowing that abuse has occurred does not resolve the confusion, anxiety, ambivalence, and internal conflict. She may struggle with the meaning of the sexual abuse. Perpetrators who are also partners may blame the child for the abuse or say that the child initiated or enjoyed the sexual activity, not characterizing it as abuse. Mothers with abusive or violent partners may be threatened or may live in a state of chronic helplessness related to their own abuse. Some mothers do not have a point of comparison because they have been abused as children. Value systems regarding sexual behavior are derived from family experience. If mothers do not have adequate knowledge of healthy sexual behavior, normal childhood development, and the dynamics of power in relationships, they may be unable to come to a place of acceptance of the harm done by the abuse.

Or mothers may be so angry about the abuse that they cannot be clear-headed in decision-making. They may want to hurt or kill the perpetrator and mentally construct plans to do so. They may be consumed with anger, rage, and a desire for retribution. The pain may become so great that they resort to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, coping in unhealthy ways. They may sink into a depression.

These responses to disclosure will create additional consequences beyond those already present as a result of the sexual abuse. This is a time when the child victim desperately needs support, reassurance, love, and protection. If the mother falls apart, the child will blame herself for this. She may believe that she should not have told and hold the responsibility for all the consequences of disclosure. 

Mothers need to take care of themselves following disclosure. They have discovered that their children have been sexually abused, and they are responsible for providing  care for their children. This requires coping skills and strategies and healthy habits, such as eating properly, getting enough sleep, exercising, and spending time with friends. Knowledge that sexual abuse has occurred precedes a time of decision making. Mothers must solve problems and face difficult choices. They need to be clear-headed, rational, and healthy. This requires a solid support system, adequate information and resources, and physical and mental health


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