This topic is one of the most fearful issues that foster and adoptive parents encounter. The realities are that most foster and adoptive parents will have a child placed with them who was exposed to some level of sexual abuse—from visual or auditory stimulus to molestation. The stigma associated with sexual abuse in our society is so much greater than verbal or physical abuse. Some people tend to use the following coping techniques to deal with this type of abuse.
How Parents Deal with Sexual Abuse
- Denial: The belief that no one could do that to a child or a belief that it did not or could not happen to your child.
- Rationalizations: Giving excuses to prior family or caregivers because of drugs, alcohol, or lack of judgment.
- Secrecy/Avoidance: “We do not talk about this in our family.” (If we avoid this, it’ll go away.)
- Disbelief: “He couldn’t have raped her; she is only three years old.”
- Blaming the Victim: “She acts promiscuously; she must have asked for it.”
Understanding the needs of a child who was sexually abused will help you become a better parent. Some of the behaviors or thoughts of a child are a direct result of the trauma, shame, and survival skills that a sexually abused child was forced to create.