When child abuse is reported,
parents sometimes feel as if they are on a
roller coaster ride of emotions. This is
normal. The report of abuse can affect your
life in many ways, and it takes time to
adjust. Listed below are some of the common
thoughts and feelings that parents may have.
You may have one or more of these, or you
may move from one feeling to another.
Your first reaction may be not to believe or
accept that possibility that your child has
been abused. Or you may believe that the
abuse did occur but that no real or lasting
harm was done to you child. Parents often
experience denial because it is too
overwhelming to accept that the abuse
occurred and that there will be
after-effects. For some people it takes time
to overcome denial and face the realities of
At times you may feel angry with yourself
for not protecting you child. You may feel
angry with the offender for what he/she did.
You may even feel angry with your child. Be
honest about your feelings and share them
with a trusted friend, relative, or support
You probably do not know what to
expect and you may feel that things are out
of control. Some parents may fear that their
child will be taken away from them. Speaking
with the professionals assigned to you case
will help you address these concerns and
have information about what to expect in
Assertiveness: You may feel
invisible and think that there is nothing
that you can do to help you learn what you
can do to change a situation and how to take
Repulsion: You may have memories
of being abused as a child, which may lead
to shock, numbness, and repulsion for the
new situation that you now find yourself in.
Memories from the past may surface to add to
your distress. If so, you may need to seek
professional help to aid in dealing with
these issues to that you are better able to
assist your child.
Guilt, Self Blame:
You may feel that what has happen
to your child is your fault, that there was
something you could have done to prevent the
abuse from occurring, or that you should
have somehow “sensed” that the abuse was
happening. The offender is responsible for
the abuse, NOT YOU and NOT YOUR CHILD.
Hurt and Betrayal:
It is normal to feel hurt from the loss of
your child’s innocence. You may also have
lost a spouse, partner, relative, or friend
if that person was the offender. It is
natural to feel betrayed by a person that
was close to you and your family when they
have caused injury to your child.
When the offender is a spouse or partner,
some parents believe that the offender
turned to the child because their relations
with him/her were not adequate. It is
important to learn the dynamics of abuse in
order to realize that sexual relations with
an adult partner do not affect a person’s
likelihood to abuse or not abuse a child.
Fear of Violence:
You may have fears that the
offender will try to harm you, your child,
or your family. Express these concerns
immediately to your local police, CPS worker
or victim advocate.
Loss of Privacy:
You may be concerned that others
in your community or neighborhood will hear
about what has happen to you child. The
investigation of child abuse is a
confidential manner and no one involved in
the case will communicate an factual
material to anyone other that those
Why didn’t my child tell me? It is not
uncommon for the child not to tell his/her
parent about the abuse. Children are often
aware that such news will upset their
parent, but do not understand that the
parent would not be angry at them for the
abuse occurring. Sometimes the abuser has
threatened the child with harm, with
responsibility that the abuser will get in
trouble if the child tells, that a parent or
loved one will be mad at them for telling,
or that the child will be “taken away” from
the parent if they tell. Even young children
feel protective toward their parents and
refrain from doing or saying anything that
will upset or anger that parent.
Reassure your child
that the fact that they told someone was
very brave and important thing for them to
How to Act Toward
Provide safety, love
and support. Let your child know that it is
okay to cry or be upset or angry. Make sure
your child understands that it is not
his/her fault. Don’t coach or pressure your
child to talk about things. Give them the
time and the space that they need. They will
talk when the time is right.
Some things you can
say that will really help you child:
• I believe you.
• I know it’s not your fault.
• I am so proud that you told, that was very
• I am sorry that this happen to you.
• I am not sure what will happen next.
• I am upset, but NOT at you.
• I am angry with the person who did this.
• I am sad and you may see me cry. That’s
alright. I will be able to take care of you.
I am not mad at you.
Some things you can
• Return to a normal routine as soon as
• See that your child receives therapy as
soon as possible.
• Find help, counseling for yourself and
• Teach your child the rules of personal
• Be careful not to question your child
about the abuse.
• Avoid discussing the case with other
victims or their families.
• Never coach or advise your child on how to
act or what to say to professionals or
• Avoid the suspect.