Although shock is a common response to the news
that your child has been abused
, the presence and intensity of shock varies among mothers. The relationship of the perpetrator
, whether he is husband, partner, son, brother, father, neighbor, pastor or priest, or stranger affects the mother's response. If the perpetrator is a close family member, the mother will experience heightened feelings
of confusion and ambivalence
. Immediate decision-making
ability is impaired. This is normal.
Sometimes other people involved with the family
, such as social services, law enforcement, and other professionals, view this initial shock as a sign
that the mother cannot care
for the child. Shock may be construed as a sign that the mother is non-supportive to the child. If professionals hold this belief initially, an ongoing process of mother blame
may be initiated.
Lack of understanding regarding the mother's normal response
of shock and confusion can result in the mother getting stuck in the denial
stage. The mother's grief
process may be interrupted, interfering with her ability to regain emotional stability. This interferes with her ability to provide support to the victim. Because of shock, the normal first response of grief, mothers cannot initially make effective decisions and assume responsibility. This requires time and healing. What mothers need at this point is support
from friends, family, and involved agencies.