Helping to Cope with the Trauma of Child Abuse Vicitms
Helping to cope with the trauma of child abuse victims
Child abuse is a social issue discussed more by family welfare workers than by psychologists. It is really a bitter and agonizing experience for children to undergo at their tender age. Child abuse which is more done in the form of sexual abuse irrespective of the child`s sex leaves a huge darkness in the child`s later life. The traumatic experience continues to haunt the child even if he/she grows up. Children who are the victims of incest sexual abuse face extreme traumatic condition. The chances of recovery through counseling therapy depends on the age of the child and the degree and continuity of the violence suffered by him.
There are social welfare agencies, schools and psychologists to provide help and assistance for children who once had suffered from child abuse. These agencies come to the picture only when the matter is reported to them. What about those children who escaped from such abuses but still are facing the trauma? Most cases of child abuse remain undisclosed by the child and never become known to the parents or guardians of the child. In several cases when the parents themselves are the abusers, the matter becomes worse.
The trauma suffered by a victim of child abuse is such that he/ she, in most cases are unwilling to disclose it to their caretaker’s either due to fear or lack of emotional security. The majority cases of child abuses are later came to known by third parties like friends, distant relatives or teachers rather than the victim`s parents, sometimes that too in later stage of life. Even if the child is rescued from the abuse and stopped further suffering, the traumatic condition prevails unless it is treated.
How can you help the victim of child abuse?
If you are a person who comes to know about the dilemma that an ex victim of sexual abuse is facing, you can help the child to overcome from the trauma even though he/ she escaped from the abuse itself. Yes, it is the third persons who are more able to lend a helping hand than the child`s close relatives. You can act the role of a counselor, a confidential friend and a psychological advisor to a child suffering from the trauma of child abuse.
Understanding the level of trauma
The ill effects of child sexual abuse are of different level on different children. To help a child to recover from the traumatic experience, you should first understand the child`s psychological level of development. This can be known by observing a few simple things – the progress in school education, relationships with friends, dressing, personal hygiene, facial expressions and body language, participation in social activities, physical growth, and relationship with family members and communication skills.
Action and assistance
The simplest way for you to help the victim of a child sexual abuse is to make the matter known to the concerned persons. The `concerned persons` need not always be the parents or immediate relatives as in most cases they themselves are the abusers. Sometimes, parents may be helpless to protect the child due to some other reasons, even if they knew about it. If you think that the parent or relative is not the right person to inform this matter, then the next best alternative is always teachers or yourselves.
Gaining the confidence of the victim
This is more important and is the second step in helping the victim. Make sure that the child, even though rescued from the abuser, is not vulnerable or subjected to another episode of sexual abuse. Gaining the confidence of an ex victim of child sex abuse may sounds simple but it takes lot of patience and sessions together with the child to win him to your side. Think about the patience and plans practiced by paedophiles to groom a child. You have to act in a reverse way to win the child.
Assure him that you understand him or her very well and you can help him. Gaining the victim`s confidence also means instilling self-confidence in himself to trust you. You can :
• Appreciate the child for the courage he/she shown to overcome the trouble
• Praise the capabilities and skills of the victim
• Boost the victim`s self-confidence
• Encourage the victim to develop his skills and talents
• Instill religious spirit in the victim and provide religious advice (in most cases spirituality is obviously a medicine)
• Befriend with the child
• Help the victim with self –improvement books suitable to his/ her age.
• Develop his interests in any hobbies or arts
Show him a role model
After gaining the victim`s confidence you can help him/her to get out from the trench. You should be able to show him/her a role model to develop his personality. This could be none other than you. A role model to admire and appreciate and imitate is always a great help for any victim of child abuse.
Watch the improvement in the personality of the victim
You should be able to keenly observe the improvement in the personality of the victim. Improvement should not be one-sided. It should be evident in all levels like personal organisation, academic and social level.
Motivation is the next step in helping the victim to recover from the trauma. Motivate the victim to achieve a goal in life. This can be in personal or academic field. Inspire the victim to achieve targets and undertake responsibilities and appreciate the victim`s efforts.
Instill a meaning of life, be a friend, a guide
Help the victim to help others, motivate the victim to provide help to others in need. Help him to recognise those blessings that God bestowed upon him. Show him the misery of the less fortunate sufferers around us. You can help a silent victim to come out from his darkness.