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How to help

How to help 

Listen 

If a child discloses that they have been abused by someone, the most important thing you can do is listen carefully. Above all, take what the child says seriously. Never assume the child is telling a story or making up the abuse. Many children who report sexual abuse are not believed. When a child’s plea for help is ignored, they may not risk telling again. As a result, the child could remain a victim of abuse for months or years. 

Provide 

Give the child a safe environment, love, comfort and reassurance. Let the child know how brave they are for telling you about the abuse. Explain that you understand how scared or frightened they may feel. Reassure the child that they are safe and that no harm will come from reporting the incident. The abuse is NOT their fault. 

Control 

You need to control your emotions. Stay calm. Fear and anger are normal reactions, but they can frighten a child. Be sure not to blame, punish, or embarrass the child. If you are angry, make sure you let your child know you are not angry with them. 

Help the child 

Talking about sexual abuse can be very hard for a child who has been threatened or told not to tell by the abuser. It can be just as hard for adults to talk about it if the abuser is someone close to them. The most important action is to report the abuse and get help for the child. 

Contact us 

Appointments and follow-up care: 
Children's Pavilion  
(804) 828-7400 

Acute sexual assaults, 24/7 care: 
Pediatric Emergency Room, Critical Care Hospital - Ground Level 

 
Robin Foster
Robin Foster MD, FAAP, FACEP Emergency medicine, Child protection Read more
Caroline Barrows-Compton
Caroline Barrows-Compton LCSW Child protection Read more
Shamika Byars
Shamika Byars MSN, CPNP Emergency medicine, Child protection Read more
Beverly Hoehing
Beverly Hoehing MSN, CPNPÂ Emergency medicine, Child protection Read more
Emily Horne
Emily Horne CPNP Emergency medicine, Child protection Read more

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