Helping An Abused Child

mother hugging boy

I was an abused child. Let’s just get that out of the way. While I am not saying you have to be abused to understand how to help an abused child, it does help to have a better grasp of what abuse feels like and the damage it can do. Abuse takes many forms. It can be physical, which is what many abused children visibly have like bruises and broken bones, it can be verbal, like being called bad names or being yelled at, or it can be emotional, like being manipulated into abusive situations or brainwashed with lies. Sadly, many children face all these abuses. Of course getting the child away from the abusive situation is the first step. But what can you do to help an abused child once they have escaped the abuser?

  1. Stay Calm – The first thing that you can do to help a victim of abuse is to stay calm. Emotions are fear-inducing to children of abuse. Even loud happy exclamations can bring back hurtful memories. Staying calm, quiet and controlled is a great way to make abused children feel safer around you. Even if you are typically more loud or outgoing, try to change your behavior and temper your reactions for the sake of the child. You should also remain stable at all times. This means even if you drop a hammer on your toe or they spill a glass of grape juice on your white carpet you do not react loudly or angrily. Instead you calmly deal with the issue. Abused children will be expecting the worst, but you can help them by forming a foundation of trust, safety and self-control.
  2. No Blame – Another thing that abused children will be expecting is to be blamed for things. Abusers frequently blame the abused for ‘causing’ them to get angry or upset. If the child makes a mistake or breaks something you should never blame them or get angry at them for it. Although you can correct them, do it gently and with the right attitude. Be assured that the child knows when they do something wrong without you having to point it out. Reassure them that you still care about them even when they make mistakes.
  3. Don’t Push – As an adult you may want to help them by talking about the abuse. Some children want to talk, but most abused children need a lot of built up trust to be able to share without fear. Let the child know that you are willing to talk to them if they would like to, but don’t push them to share. Memories of the abuse can be as painful to relive as the abuse itself was. Is it any wonder that the child would prefer not to talk about it?
  4. Safe Place – Last but not least, help the child to find a safe place. This can be their bedroom, a closet, a hidden nook, a tree house or any other location where the child is comfortable. Allow them to have this space to themselves without invasion. Even coming in unexpectedly to clean or pick up can cause an abused child to not see the area as safe anymore. Make sure you ask permission before you enter their safe place and if they say no then back away without getting upset or demanding an explanation. Respecting their boundaries the first step in building their trust.

Author Bio:
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.

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