Here are some things to keep in mind if your child tells you that they have been abused, adapted from the National Children’s Advocacy Center:
- Remain calm and do not express panic or disbelief.
- Make sure you are in a private place.
- Be a listener first, not an investigator. This will help the child to speak in their own language without being discouraged to the disclosure of abuse. Ask only enough questions to further support the information you are being given, like “Can you tell me more about that?”
- Reassure the child that they have done the right thing by telling you and that they are not in trouble.
- Be aware of the tone in your voice in order to avoid scaring the child further. Explain that you are concerned, but that you want to make sure that they are safe rather than panicking.
- Don’t make any promises, like that you won’t tell anyone when you know that you have to. Instead, let them know that you are a safe person to speak with and that there won’t be any consequences for them rather than saying “if you tell me, I promise not to tell anyone.”
- Contact the Department of Children and Families or your local police department.
- Do not contact the perpetrator, regardless of who they are. It is incredibly important to leave that to DCF or the police.
When a Child Discloses Abuse (Rep.). (2015). Retrieved http://www.nationalcac.org/images/pdfs/LocalServices/Prevention/ForParents/When_a_Child_Discloses_Abuse.pdf