Finding out that your child has been sexually abused has been likened to an emotional earthquake. Mothers immediately experience anger, shock, denial, and disbelief. It is difficult to accept and process the disclosure information, and you need support for yourself at this time. If the perpetrator is your spouse or partner, you lose what may have been a support source. Family and friends can be non-supportive as they also struggle with the disclosure of sexual abuse. 

You may have difficult and painful choices to make. If the abuse involves your partner, you have to make a choice between partner and child. If you choose partner, you may lose your child temporarily to protective custody, or forever, due to the sense of betrayal he or she will feel. You may experience ambivalence  on a daily basis.

Children struggle with blaming the mother because they think she should have known. You also will struggle with self-blame. You will have thoughts and feelings about how this happened, how you did not know and did not protect. You may feel anger at the victim for not telling you. Understanding the process of victimization will help you direct your anger toward the perpetrator. The child's recovery depends on your supportPost-disclosure parenting is difficult. It will help if both you and your child are in counseling, with regularly scheduled joint sessions so that problems can be resolved. It is also important that siblings receive help as they are secondary victims of the abuse.   

Mothers experience long term consequences when their children are sexually abused. Secrecy about what you are going through occurs as you find that people do not understand, and they judge, criticize, and are otherwise unhelpful. Your self-esteem is affected. You may continue to feel the pain and hurt and also feel isolated, betrayed, and anxious. Some mothers experience symptoms of posttraumatic stress or panic disorder. Some mothers get sick due to the stress.

As the post-disclosure process moves forward, you may need to work with law enforcement, social services, and attorneys. If the perpetrator is a family member, you must make safe decisions for your child. You may also have other children who need you. You have an overwhelming responsibility at a time you feel overwhelmed. Finding support sources is critical to your mental and physical health


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