If a child discloses abuse to you, what can you do?

If a child tells you about their traumatic experience it is because they trust you. This information can feel overwhelming or leave you feeling helpless, contact us if you are unsure how to react or process your emotions.

Here are some ways you can help a child you has disclosed abuse to you:

  • Be aware of your reaction to a child’s disclosure; the child will be aware of your reaction as well.
  • Tell the child you believe him or her.
  • Thank the child for telling you.
  • Assure the child that it is not his or her fault
  • Be honest with the child and don’t make any promises you cannot keep.
  • Let the child know that you will have to talk to other people in order to get help and ensure their safety. Be clear that you are not asking their permission. The child may not want you to report and may be frightened, especially if the perpetrator has threatened them or their loved ones. Remember that by reporting, you are involving authorities who will be able to keep the child safe.
  • Ensure that the child is in a safe place. If you have concerns over the child’s immediate safety, call 911 or your local police department.
  • If the child is currently safe, report your the disclosure to the Child Abuse Hotline and be sure to discuss your concerns explicitly with authorities.
  • If you fear that the perpetrator will cause further harm to the child upon learning about the investigation, clearly communicate this to authorities.