by Laura Markham, PhD
When one child in a family is traumatized by sexual abuse, it is quite likely that the other kids are also completely traumatized. They are also at risk from their own sibling who could act out sexually with them, or at the very least act out his rage against them.
One way to keep your home safe and secure for all the children is to consciously build relationships that encourage sharing and openness. Use this trauma as the impetus to create this very open, honest and supportive family life. What do I mean?
Well, let's pretend that your child had been injured in some other way -- for instance, had run in the street and been hit by a car. I am sure that you would lose no time in educating your other kids about streets and cars. And, because there is no substitute for supervision with young kids, I am sure you would be 100% on top of any exposure your kids had to streets or cars.
So I am suggesting that you use this opportunity to educate yourself and your kids about sexual abuse so that they understand it is nothing to be ashamed of and is not anyone's fault, and that they aren't powerless to prevent it -- in fact, they CAN prevent it happening to them. I recommend the book, My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky, an Assistant District Attorney in New York City.
Here are some tips parents can use to educate their kids so they can avoid sexual abuse.
I want to close by saying that as with any other trauma, this kind of tragedy can destroy a family, or it can make it stronger. You will definitely need help and courage, but your child, and the rest of your family, can recover and lead a happy life. I wish you every blessing.
As both a mom and a Clinical Psychologist with a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Dr. Laura Markham offers a unique perspective on raising kids. Her relationship-based parenting model has helped thousands of families across the U.S. and Canada find compassionate, common-sense solutions to everything from separation anxiety and sleep problems to sass talk and cell phones. Dr. Markham is the founding editor of www.YourParentingSolutions.com and www.AhaParenting.com, where she regularly takes on a wide range of challenging questions from parents who struggle with "the toughest, most rewarding job on earth."