If a child begins to talk about an incident or situation, even in a vague manner, allow the child to talk freely. When listening to a child be aware of your facial expression, tone of voice, and body language as that might communicate judgment or blame. Some general tips are:
– Show the child that you take what he or she is saying seriously and you understand. Your response to the child’s disclosure is critical to their healing process.
– Support the child with their disclosure and let them know they did the right thing by telling you. It is common for the abuser to be a trusted person in the child’s life. Feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment are common emotions for victims of child abuse.
– Reassure the child he or she is not to blame for the abuse.
– Tell the child you will take the necessary steps to keep him or her safe.
– Report any concerns to your local Department of Social Services (DSS) and law enforcement.