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

Typically, if a child tells you about a 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. We will walk you through the appropriate way to react after disclosure and give you referrals to advocates who can continue to help.

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

  • Listen openly and calmly with minimal interruptions.
  • Reassure the child making the disclosure (say “I believe you” or thank you for telling me.”)
  • Assure the child that it is not their 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 abuser has threatened them or their loved ones.)
  • 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 as soon as possible and be sure to discuss your concerns explicitly with authorities.