need support immediately after disclosure
and for a long time afterward. Child sexual abuse
is not something that is addressed and then goes away. Victims
and long-term consequences
related to the abuse. Mothers also experience initial emotional effects
, as well as long-term consequences
following disclosure. Other family members
are also affected by the abuse. This is not meant to imply that their lives are destroyed or that they cannot function and live as normal adults. However, the impact of sexual abuse is pervasive. It is important that mothers are aware of these effects, obtain support, and process through thoughts and feelings
so that they are healthy and able to support the victim and other children
in the home. Maternal support
is the best predictor of the child's recovery from abuse.
Mothers must work to create a healthy support system that will be there with them when they face problems, go through family crises, and nictitate the legal
process. The goal of this section is to assist you in gathering resources and building a support system.
Some of the potential sources of support are:
- Community Support Groups - some communities offer support groups for mothers of sexually abused children. Other types of self-help groups may be helpful to mothers in dealing with the grief and emotions following disclosure (e.g., nonoffending spouse groups, Codependents Anonymous, Al Anon).
- Friends, Family, and Community - accessing friends and family is the first line of defense when a crisis occurs. Unfortunately certain types of crises, like child sexual abuse, do not bring positive responses from friends and family. One of the early processes following disclosure is determining who in your network of family, friends, and acquaintances is able to provide emotional support. Community support such as pastors, priests, crisis workers, and others can help you get through the crisis and provide ongoing support.
- Individual Counseling - if you have seen a counselor before, he or she can be a source of support. Ongoing counseling can provide a safe place for you to process your thoughts and feelings, resolve problems, and discuss decisions.
- Online Support - the Web offers a few excellent resources for ongoing discussion and support groups online.
- Therapy Groups - therapy groups are those that have a therapist facilitator. You may be able to locate a group for mothers of sexually abused children through the local social services or child protective services agencies.