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04-11 Guide for parents of a raped child

Guide for parents of a raped child

Someone has drawn a dagger of perversity in your home. Someone has cut deep, leaving you and your child to bleed. The child has cried a river of hurt, and now that you know, together you’ve built an abashed bridge subconsciously by which you’re both trying to get over the flash flood of violence.

In “Beyond Survival: A Writing Journey for Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse,” Maureen Brady writes, “The bridge out of shame is outrage. Suddenly the obvious becomes stunningly clear – we have been carrying shame for the crime of the offender … In a clear flash we may see ourselves standing in a fierce stance, grounded by our knowledge, ready to throw off any wrongdoer. Our outrage can be a fueling energy, capable of making us as steely as we need to be.”

One in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse, and 28 percent of teens polled reported being sexually victimized in their lifetime thus far. Both parent and child can fortify themselves with the right knowledge, forge a dam to stop the flow of hurt, and walk in mental wellness again.

First say this

Parents’ first response after the rape of a child has a major impact on post-traumatic stress and how well the child can move on, even into adulthood. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) urges parents foremost to affirm the child with these three points:

  • I love you.
  • What happened is not your fault.
  • I will do everything I can to keep you safe.

It’s equally vital for parents to comprehend it is neither the child’s fault nor theirs. The perpetrator is solely to blame.

Long-term mental health issues are exacerbated when a parent gives in to knee-jerk responses and berates or blames the child for abuse. Sadly, rape is about wielding power. Boys or girls can be targets, and it’s a scientifically dispelled myth that certain dress and behavior invite rape.

Managing natural reactions

Any traumatic event creates natural aftershocks that are impossible to ignore:

  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Fear

RAINN explains that incest or abuse by a family member may bring some parents to anger toward the child for ruining the family image, especially if the perpetrator is a parent’s partner. Others may lose confidence in their judgment or parenting skills. Cutting ties with the loved one who may have hurt the child can also bring about the same cycle of grief as losing one to death.

RAINN recommends three steps for parents to reset the household after a rape:

  • Instill a practice of self-care for the mind and body, to release negative energy.
  • Emotions after trauma can be draining and time-consuming. While keeping communication open, set limits on how much time the family focuses on the violence. Some days need more than others, but life must go on. Gradually restore family activities.
  • Other family members’ reactions over the rape can be divisive and damaging. Only link up with supportive loved ones and consider a support group that is not personally involved.

How to move forward

Resist the urge to overprotect or shut out the world after trauma. It’s not realistic. Instead, equip the victimized child and perhaps his or her siblings for the future.

A common regret of parents of children who’ve experienced or initiated violence is that they “never knew,” “didn’t listen,” or “never talked about it.” Moving forward:

  • Teach about personal boundaries
  • Educate a child on how to talk about their bodies
  • Be available to listen
  • Assure a child they won’t get in trouble for speaking up
  • Ask regularly: “Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?” or “Anything I should know?”

If you child has experienced sexual trauma, Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego can help. We offer comfort, ease of access and cutting-edge treatment that is scientifically customized to completely rehabilitate the mind after trauma, mental disorder and substance abuse. Call our 24/7 helpline for details.

About the author

Sovereign Health Group staff writer Kristin Currin-Sheehan is a mindful spirit swimming in metaphysical pools with faith as her compass. Her cover: a 30s-something Cinderella breadwinner of an all-sport blended family. Her repertoire includes writing poetry, lifestyle articles and TV news; editing, radio production and on-camera reporting. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at

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