Educational Material

When abuse is reported, parents/guardians may experience a “roller coaster” of emotions. A report of abuse may affect your life in many ways and adjusting takes time. You may experience one or more of the following feelings. Any of the feelings listed are normal and movement from one feeling to another is also normal.

1. DENIAL- A parent/guardian’s first reaction may be to not believe or accept the possibility that your child has been abused. Or, they may believe the abuse occurred, but no lasting harm has been done to the child. Parents/guardians often experience denial because it is too overwhelming to accept that the abuse occurred and there will be after-effects from it. For some people, it takes time to overcome the denial and face the realities of abuse.
2. ANGER- At times, parents/guardians may feel angry with themselves for not protecting their child from abuse. They may also feel angry with the perpetrator for what they have done. Some parents may feel angry with their child. It is important that you not blame your child for what has happened.
3. HELPLESSNESS- Parents/guardians are not likely to know what to expect when their child discloses abuse and therefore feel that things are out of their control. Parents/guardians may feel “invisible” and as though nothing can be done to improve the family’s situation. Some parents/guardians fear their children being taken away from them.
4. SHOCK, NUMBNESS, AND REPULSION-Some parents/guardians may have memories of being abused as a child, which may lead to feelings of shock, numbness or repulsion for the present situation. Memories from the past may surface and add distress. Parents/guardians may need to seek counseling for themselves in order to better assist and support their child.
5. GUILT AND SELF-BLAME-Parents/guardians may feel at fault for what has happened to their child. They may also feel that there was something that could have been done to prevent the abuse from occurring, or that they should have “sensed” that the abuse was happening. The perpetrator is responsible for the abuse-not the parent or the child.
6. HURT AND BETRAYAL- It is normal to feel hurt from the loss of a child’s innocence. A parent/guardian may also have lost a spouse, partner, relative, or friend if that person was the abuser. It is natural to feel betrayed by someone who has hurt a child. It is important to take time to grieve these losses.
7. FEAR OF VIOLENCE- Parents/guardians may have fears that the offender will try to cause more harm to the family. These fears may be expressed to the investigators or CFAC staff.
8. LOSS OF PRIVACY- Parents/guardians may be concerned that others in the community or neighborhood will hear abut what has happened to their child. The investigation of child abuse is performed in a confidential manner, and no one involved in the case wil communicate with anyone other than involved team members. A child’s name will not be released or published. It is important that parents/guardians use care when discussing the situation with others while the investigation is ongoing. This will prevent complication or confusion of the investigation.
9. CONFUSION- Many parents/guardians wonder, “Why didn’t my child tell me this was happening?” It is not uncommon for a child not to tell his/her parent/guardian about abuse. Children are often aware that such news will upset their parent, but do not understand that the parent/guardian will not be angry with them for the abuse occurring. Sometimes an abuser has threatened the child with harm if they tell, with responsibility that the abuser will “get into trouble” if the child tells, or that a parent/guardian or loved one won’t believe them, won’t love them, and/or will be angry if they know about the abuse. Children may fear being taken away from their parent/guardian if they tell. Even young children feel protective toward their parent/guardian and refrain from doing or saying anything they think might upset or anger them. Parents/guardians should reassure their child that telling was a brave and important thing to do.


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