One in Ten Podcast – How do we help children who have been sexually abused believe that abuse is never, ever their fault?
For professionals, one of the saddest aspects of child sexual abuse is the way in which many victims struggle with blaming themselves for the terrible actions of others. This self-blame and feelings of guilt can cause suffering throughout a lifespan if it’s left untreated. Many evidence-based interventions specifically target these negative feelings and erroneous thoughts. But how do children come to believe this in the first place? What makes children mistakenly believe that they’re somehow responsible for the actions of adults?
Dr. Jouriles’ research set out to examine the relationship between whether and in what way caregivers’ and peers’ blame of victims influenced victims’ self-blame. And, while the results may not be surprising, the implications certainly are for child abuse professionals. How do we talk to parents and caregivers at the very earliest points of disclosure about the importance of supporting their child? How do we provide caregivers support in a way that ensures that they themselves have the emotional resources and resiliency needed to provide support to their children? And most importantly, how do we ensure that children know and believe that abuse is never, ever their fault?