Family Advocacy Services
How to Help Your Child and Yourself
If you think your child has been abused you may be confused about what to do next. You may be told by the police, Child Protective Services, or other trained professionals not to discuss the abuse with your child. Their concern is that the child’s statement may become confused being questioned repeatedly about a highly sensitive incident. This does not mean you cannot talk to your child about how they are feeling if they have concerns, problems or questions. Answer these questions and concerns openly and honestly. The Family Advocate can be there to support you during this difficult time.
How Parents Often Feel When the Abuse Has Been Reported
Denial – Your first reaction may be to deny that the abuse occured. Parents often feel this way because it is overwhelming to accept the abuse and the long-term effect. Or, the situation may bring back feelings of your own abuse if you were a victim.
Anger and Self-Blame – Many parents feel angry at themselves for not being able to protect their child. You may feel anger and disgust toward the perpetrator for what they may have done. Be honest with yourself, and talk to someone you trust.
Helplessness – You probably feel that things are out of control and do not know what to expect. You many not know how you are going to take care of yourself and your child in the future if you are dependent on the perpetrator. You may feel you are not being heard and that things are not working fast enough to resolve the abuse. Identify what you do have control over, and ask for help.
Hurt and Betrayal – It is normal to feel hurt and betrayed by what happened to your child. Take time to grieve and talk about your loss of trust.
Below Are Some Ways You Can Help Your Child
Treat your child as you would following any other trauma. Your child needs you to provide love and support.
Continue to believe your child and do not blame your child for what happened.
Instruct your child to tell you immediately if anyone attempts to touch them again or bothers them in any way.
Respond to the questions or feelings that your child expresses about the abuse in a calm matter of fact. Do not pressure child to talk about the abuse.
Respect the privacy of your child by not telling a lot of people or letting other people question them, other than professionals.
Try to maintain regular routines around the home (expect usual chores, bedtime rituals, and rules).
Take the time to talk about your experience and feelings with someone you trust, a friend, relative, or a counselor. The Family Advocate is another individual for you to talk to about your feelings. Do not discuss your feelings of the situation in front of your child/children.
Who is the Family Advocate and What Can They Do For Me?
The Family Advocate Program is a voluntary service provided free of charge to the non-offending caregiver of a child who has been abused. It is our belief that the well-being of the caregiver is important to the child’s successful recovery. The Family Advocate recognizes the caregiver’s need for support and understanding so that she/he can be better equipped to support the child. The Family Advocate is a neutral party who can provide support and services such as:
- Education on the investigation process.
- Emotional support before and after the process of prosecution.
- Information and support with obtaining housing, food, financial, medical and other basic needs if needed.
- Assistance in connecting you with other community resources and services.
- Education and Support Groups concerning the effects of abuse on the child as well as its effects on the family.
Phone Numbers You May Need
Crisis Clinic – 586-2800
Child Protective Services – 725-6700
Lacey Police Department – 459-4333
Olympia Police Department – 759-4333
Providence St. Peter’s Hospital Sexual Assault Clinic – 493-7469
Rainier Police Department – 704-2740
Safeplace – 786-8754
Tenino Police Department – 264-2626
Thurston County Prosecutor – 786-5540
Thurston County Sheriff – 786-5530
Tumwater Police Department – 754-4200
Yelm Police Department – 458-3100
For more information about Family Advocate Services please contact Sharon Strange at 360-923-1884 (ext. 1102) or email at email@example.com