7 Steps to Lessen the Adverse Effects of Abuse Against Our Children

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I am sitting here at Amman, Jordan airport waiting for my flight back to Cairo.

My husband had to undergo an emergency surgery while ministering in Jordan.

It is amazing how God orchestrates our lives, and I hope you are enjoying God’s interruptions to your life like me.

I was not meaning to go to Jordan, but since I was close to Egypt, when I learned that my husband was undergoing surgery, I flew on the next flight to Jordan.

Praise God, the surgery went fine, and my husband is recuperating nicely.

Today, on our way to the airport, a Jordanian missionary friend asked us if we would swing by and see his ministry.

He is ministering with Iraqi refugees in Jordan. There are 250,000 Christians who fled Iraq in 6 hours when ISIS gave them three options: to denounce their Christian faith, to turn to Islam and join ISIS or to be killed. They had the sign ن    put on the door of every Christian family so they would know which houses to attack.

What I saw today was a miracle in action: a special home called The Good Shepherd that hosts 100 Iraqi kids teaching them Montessori, science, English, Arabic, math and social sciences. But most importantly, they are giving them Jesus.

Many of those kids have had their homes bombed, others have been abused, others still stopped talking because of their trauma.

“How can I help you?” I asked. Come and train the parents, the teachers and the kids about how to protect themselves from sexual abuse. Come train us on how to deal with those traumatized kids.

To tell you the truth I was so humbled. I could see how Miss Dawlat, the leader of that school was so amazingly like Jesus. As I walked across the school, I could hear the kids sing in English ‘ten thousand reasons’ song. I could not hold my tears.

‘I will be back in October with the Not Guilty team.

What is the worst thing that can happen to your child? Every parent has qualms and fears of dangers or illnesses that might happen to our child. These children lost everything, yet they can still find ten thousand reasons to praise God.

Knowing that one in every four girls and one in every eight boys is sexually abused before the age of 18, it is every parent’s nightmare that abuse might happen to our children.

What should you do if your child tells you that someone touched him/ her in a way that made him/her feel uncomfortable? How should you react if your child tells you he/she has been sexually molested or raped?

Does your child trust you enough as a parent or caregiver to come and report abuse or rape?

What if the predator chose to groom the child by showing him/her pornography?

Sometimes it is more difficult for a teenager to come and tell of abuse, especially if the predator used alcohol or drugs as part of the grooming process and as a means to keep the abuse a secret.

What should we, as parents and caregivers do in such a case?

There are 7 things that will help decrease the consequences of the abuse on the child.

 

  1. Listen“When I told my mother, she was washing dishes. She continued washing the dishes as if she did not hear what I said. After I finished she responded, ‘Go up to your room and finish your homework.’ I remember what I was wearing (I was only five at the time); I remember the smell of baked potatoes and grilled chicken. I have hated my mother ever since. I never told her anything about my life.” This is a 22-year-old girl who is my client.
    When a child opens the door to let you into his/her private world, leave everything you are doing and concentrate on the child. Kneel down to be on the same level. Look into the child’s eye and listen… really listen. Reporting abuse is a hard matter especially if the abuser groomed the child to secrecy.
  2. Control your reactionDon’t panic. Don’t scream. Whatever you are feeling does not show any negative emotions. Don’t judge the child or ask questions about details of the abuse. At this point in time remember that you are a parent. Show the Heavenly Father’s, compassionate heart. Your reaction at this point will determine if the child will tell you the whole story. Usually, a child tells the story of abuse in many episodes. The first episode is a trial balloon to determine if he/she can trust you with the rest of the story. If you scream or shout or disbelieve the child you are only proving the predator correct: that no one will believe the child, or that the child will be punished if he/she reports.
  3. Don’t try to correct their vocabularyThis is not a time for a vocabulary lesson. Just let the child tell you what he/she wants to say. The child might use obscene names for body parts, or tell you details that might shock you. Keep your cool.
  4. Believe Your ChildVery few children would make up stuff like that. Even if they do, it means that this is a red flag that something is wrong in your child’s life.
  5. Show compassionThe dictionary defines compassion as sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, human charity.
    Have you read the Lord’s biodata? Yes, God wrote His own curriculum vitae in Exodus 34.6.

“Yahweh! The Lord!

The God of compassion and mercy!

I am slow to anger

and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.

I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.”


Compassion is the core and crux of the character of God. You too should show compassion to your child all the time, but especially if the child is reporting sexual abuse.

In Matthew 9.36 we read,
When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

As your child is telling you about abuse, he/she feels confused and helpless too.

  1. Thank Your Child for telling youTelling you is no easy task. It needs a lot of courage. The child needs to overcome all the lies the predator told him/ her. The child is afraid of your reaction.
    If the predator is a family member or a family friend fear of reporting is even more. (87% of predators are known to the child)
  2. Tell the child that it’s not his/her faultMy nonprofit is called Not Guilty because it is never the victim’s fault that abuse happened. You need to tell the child that it is not his or her fault, not once, not twice, but as many times as it takes for it to sink in. Say it until the child or teen actually believes it and it becomes part of his/ her belief system.

 

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**My new book, “What Happens After #MeToo” will be launched August 1, 2018

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