The Promise of Trauma-focused Therapy for Childhood Sexual Abuse was developed to provide information about the impact of child sexual abuse, to emphasize the importance of including parents/caretakers in treatment, and to highlight the need for children in therapy to learn specific skills to deal with what has happened to them and to talk about the details of their sexually abusive experiences.
This video is targeted primarily to individuals who refer sexually abused children to therapists. It is also useful for parents and caretakers of sexually abused children and therapists who treat sexually abused children.
Trauma-focused Therapy for Childhood Sexual Abuse: Talking Points
- Childhood sexual abuse is all too common. One in four girls and one in seven boys experience sexual abuse during childhood. Child sexual abuse crosses ethnic, racial, religious, and socioeconomic boundaries. It happens to children in every kind of family, neighborhood, and community.
- Many children keep sexual abuse a secret, sometimes until they become adults. Some children never tell. There are many reasons children do not tell about sexual abuse, or do not tell right away. Children may be afraid they will be blamed for the abuse, or that they will not be believed. Some children care about or have loving feelings for the abuser and do not want him or her to be punished even though they want the sexual abuse to stop. Other children have been threatened that something terrible will happen if they tell. It takes much courage to disclose sexual abuse.
- It may be frightening or difficult for many children when they begin to disclose the sexual abuse. Children may disclose only a little bit at a time, their stories may change, or they may take back (“recant”) what they previously said happened during the abuse. Some children may even deny that the abuse has occurred at all. This is not unusual and may be confusing and frustrating for parents and caregivers. Children may be given a special type of exam to determine whether sexual abuse is likely to have occurred. This is called a “forensic exam.”
- It is normal for parents and caregivers of children who disclose sexual abuse to feel very upset, angry, or guilty or even want not to believe that the abuse has happened. However, one of the best predictors that a sexually abused child will recover is the presence of a supportive parent or caregiver. As such, it is important to work to express support regardless of your other thoughts or feelings.
- There is hope for children who have experienced sexual abuse. With the right kind of help, children can recover completely and live normal and happy lives.
- Trauma-focused therapy is the best kind of treatment for children who have experienced sexual abuse. Trauma-focused therapy includes these elements:a. Building skills at the start of treatment, which will help a child deal with difficult feelings and cope with stress. The child can then use these skills for rest of his or her life to manage stressful experiences and situations.b. Involving the parent or caregiver in the treatment process.c. Encouraging the child to talk directly about the sexual abuse by developing a trauma narrative.
- To find out more about organizations in your area that may be part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) and that may provide trauma-focused therapy for childhood sexual abuse, go to “Finding Help”. If there are no NCTSN organizations in your area, it may be useful to ask providers the following questions to determine if they offer trauma-focused therapy:
a. Do you have experience in treating sexually abused children and their families?
b. Do you offer treatments for sexually abused children that have been studied and have been demonstrated to be effective?
c. Are you familiar with and have you used trauma-focused therapy with sexually abused children?
For more information please visit: http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/sexual-abuse#q5