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How to encourage child to talk about abuse

(25 Posts)
Demithemoore Tue 27-Oct-20 20:42:27

I strongly suspect my child has been abused. I had a thread last week that had to be deleted as I had said far too much; police are involved and I was worried it might undermine the case or give a heads up to the abuser...

My child will tell the police nothing - tells me some bits but omitted all this in their statement. They have been told by the abuser the police will take them away if they talk and are scared.

If anyone has any experience how do I encourage my child to talk about abuse? They have said some things that are really worrying but not a clear picture and I get the feeling that now the abuser is gone from their life they’d really rather just forget about it all and move on. I completely understand why, but also know that for the safety of other children we really need to hear what’s happened. I also need my child to know what happen was not their fault and was wrong.

Any advice would be really welcome. My child has SEN so is more like a 4yr old than their actual age. They can understand and communicate but are very trusting and naive.

Any advice really appreciated

OP’s posts: |
toomuchtoworryabout Tue 27-Oct-20 20:52:18

I’m so sorry you and your child are going through this op.
Do the police have some sort of family liaison officer that can talk to you and your child? Perhaps someone specially trained in child trauma?
Would using puppets/favourite cuddly toys help? I find a lot of children (including those with SEN) sometimes find it easier to talk through inanimate objects - almost like they are narrating for the soft toys. I’m not explaining myself very well but it is a well known method for helping children talk about difficult topics - a form of play therapy.
It might be worth asking if this is an option?
Wishing you well op 💐

Bluebunny123 Tue 27-Oct-20 20:57:08

I'm so sorry how horrific!

Given the SEN age I would probably attempt to read some age related books on personal boundaries/privates/not keeping secrets. Even if they don't end up telling you anything at first it may make them understand a bit more what's happened or what they should do next. There's some on amazon that I've seen while browsing.

I would also maybe try to get them drawing sometimes kids will draw situations they've been in. You could have a look and see if they draw anything related and then see if they'll tell you what they've drawn.

God what a difficult situation for you I'm racking my brain but can't imagine what else I would do. Really hope you find a way thanks

Embolio Tue 27-Oct-20 20:58:29

I would suggest specialist play therapy/counselling. The police and/or victim support might be able to point you in the right direction or organisations like barnardo's/nspcc.

I'm so sorry that you and your child are going through this.

TeddyIsaHe Tue 27-Oct-20 21:00:37

I personally would be finding a qualified play therapist who specialises in trauma. I wouldn’t take it into your own hands.

Do you have an officer liaison? They should be able to point you in the right direction.

user183684257424 Tue 27-Oct-20 21:01:36

Please don't try and do this. I get that you mean well but the potential for harm is significant.

There are very good reasons why specialists are used to interview and do therapy with children. And they're not trained via a quick Google session.

The NSPCC do have advice on teaching children about boundaries, secrets, etc etc which is a different matter and something you could do for safeguarding.

But don't try digging around to extract stuff yourself about things that may already have happened. Just don't. You're not qualified and it could really spectacularly backfire.

It's also not your child's responsibility to be further traumatised to protect other children. That's not in your child's best interests.

Thatwentbadly Tue 27-Oct-20 21:06:17

You need specialist advice on this. You need to be asking the police and as not random people on MN.

Demithemoore Tue 27-Oct-20 21:08:35

Thank you for the suggestions I will look for a play therapist and see if I can find someone who can help. I looked for psychotherapists who specialise in abuse but many are working through Zoom due to the Covid climate and zoom probably won’t work for my child as they need face to face interaction.

We have a social worker (because of the situation) who is involved and liaising with the police, they haven’t offered much atm but I’ll ask if there’s anything else they can suggest.

Thank you for the advice. It’s heartbreaking but I just need my child to know it will be ok, they aren’t in danger and also to hopefully bring this person to justice.

OP’s posts: |
Demithemoore Tue 27-Oct-20 21:14:40

Wow last 2 comments. Thanks.

Im not pushing my child I’m asking for advice. I have spoken to the police, the NSPCC and parents protect. They’ve all said go softly, don’t ask leading questions etc but when your child is telling you someone has put their finger in their mouth and playing ‘fiddling games’ it’s very difficult not to wonder.

I was hoping a parent who had experience this before had some advice on what to say and do.

Please reserve your judgment. It’s just unkind.

OP’s posts: |
Demithemoore Tue 27-Oct-20 21:46:40

Shameless bump - if anyone has been through anything similar and has some advice on how best to support their child I would be really grateful

OP’s posts: |
GloGirl Tue 27-Oct-20 21:58:40

TeddyIsaHe

I personally would be finding a qualified play therapist who specialises in trauma. I wouldn’t take it into your own hands.

Do you have an officer liaison? They should be able to point you in the right direction.

Exactly this.

GloGirl Tue 27-Oct-20 22:00:31

My child’s therapist has opened back up again for face to face sessions. Don't be quick to assume it will be zoom based or not appropriate for your child.

This requires specialist treatment

Demithemoore Tue 27-Oct-20 22:11:50

I don’t have an liaison officer, but good to hear therapists are offering face to face sessions; I’ve been going off their websites which mightn’t have been updated since full lockdown.

Also interesting that ppl are saying they need professional support ( I 100% agree) but police and children’s services were more along the ‘it’ll come out in the wash’ lines and that they would talk to us about it before anyone else. Could take weeks or months is what they said - which is why I feel this huge pressure to try and find out what’s happened but equally don’t want to pass this on to my child.

It’s just all messed up.

OP’s posts: |
Jellycatspyjamas Tue 27-Oct-20 22:30:27

It will take time, continue to love him, play with him, help him feel safe and secure and create opportunities where he can talk - so time when you’re doing something together and he has your attention. Give him space and time with you with no pressure. I often find my kids talk about stuff in the car (my kids are adopted and have a trauma history)

Social workers do have ways of supporting children with communication difficulties - but may assess that there is enough evidence to deal with the offender without needing a fuller statement from your son and sill want to avoid re-traumatising him.

It’s not your sons responsibility to protect others, that’s the job of statutory services. While I really understand that strong desire to know what’s happened it really is best to take it at his pace and speed. Trying to draw it out of him, with the best of intentions, may lead to him telling you what he thinks you want him to say, rather than what he recalls happening.

I’d echo the suggestion of play therapy - not to get him to talk about what happened necessarily, but to help him understand his feelings and reactions which may or may not lead to a future disclosure. I’m a CP social worker and a therapist with a specialism in working with trauma, it really does just take time.

Demithemoore Tue 27-Oct-20 22:45:07

Jellycatspyjamas

It will take time, continue to love him, play with him, help him feel safe and secure and create opportunities where he can talk - so time when you’re doing something together and he has your attention. Give him space and time with you with no pressure. I often find my kids talk about stuff in the car (my kids are adopted and have a trauma history)

Social workers do have ways of supporting children with communication difficulties - but may assess that there is enough evidence to deal with the offender without needing a fuller statement from your son and sill want to avoid re-traumatising him.

It’s not your sons responsibility to protect others, that’s the job of statutory services. While I really understand that strong desire to know what’s happened it really is best to take it at his pace and speed. Trying to draw it out of him, with the best of intentions, may lead to him telling you what he thinks you want him to say, rather than what he recalls happening.

I’d echo the suggestion of play therapy - not to get him to talk about what happened necessarily, but to help him understand his feelings and reactions which may or may not lead to a future disclosure. I’m a CP social worker and a therapist with a specialism in working with trauma, it really does just take time.

This is so helpful - thank you.

I suppose deep down I really want to know what has happened as I want to protect them and feel so awful that they’ve been in any situation where someone has violated their trust. I had one main job as a parent and that’s to keep them safe and I’ve failed. I just want them to know they’ve done nothing wrong, they don’t need to be afraid and that everything will be ok. The control this person has over them is frightening and so wrong.

But reading your reply I see I can do this without knowing the full details of what has happened. And as hard as that is they just need to know they are loved and safe.

Thank you

OP’s posts: |
solidaritea Tue 27-Oct-20 22:56:39

I saw your last thread too. I don't have any advice I'm afraid, but I had one main job as a parent and that’s to keep them safe and I’ve failed. struck me. You've not failed. You are keeping them safe and are continuing to do so by showing them that they are loved and that your love is unaffected by anything that has happened to them. It must be terrifying and sickening to know that your child has been through this, but children who experience Adverse Childhood Experiences such as these are massively, massively protected by protective factors such as strong emotional bonds to their parents or caregivers. You are the main reason that your child will get through this the best they possibly can.

You're being a good parent. You've not failed and you're not failing.

Jellycatspyjamas Tue 27-Oct-20 23:02:34

First of all I apologise for referring to your child as “him” when you’ve not identified their gender - that’s a lazy use of language on my part.

You can absolutely do that without knowing the details. Maybe using social stories to teach them about their bodies and privacy, doing some work around secrets (ie that they can always tell mum and dad about secrets even if someone tells them not to) etc.

You can also help them by giving them language for their feelings. I play games with younger children eg show me your angry/sad/whatever face, or things like drawing or modelling how they feel. Behaviour is communication so keep an eye on they’re behaviour and if you’re seeing things that look unusual I’d try to explore it with things like “you look worried about something, i wonder if you’re feeling sad, frustrated etc, when I feel X I sometimes do Y, or when I do x is sometimes because I feel y”, which started to give some words for feelings and links feelings to actions.

The other thing is they may actually not have the words to explain what happened, or the memory might be very jumbled up and confused - which is what happens when we are very scared. You may find they can give snippets at a time, which seem irrelevant until you piece it all together.

Finally, you have not failed as a mum, you are here trying to help your child, loving him and, yes, protecting him. You’re doing all that can be asked if you in the circumstances. It might be worth you seeking some therapeutic support for yourself though because you too have experienced something traumatic which deserves care and attention.

Jellycatspyjamas Tue 27-Oct-20 23:04:23

And I did it again, I’m sorry 🙄

Demithemoore Thu 29-Oct-20 19:23:43

Thank you so much and please don’t apologise at all for the gender thing!

Their behaviour changes hugely when talking about the subject; it’s clearly really distressing and I just wish I could take all the pain and anxiety away....

I’ve found a play therapist so I’m hoping that will be the best way moving forwards.

Huge thanks to everyone that replied - you’ve helped more than you can know x

OP’s posts: |
Demithemoore Tue 03-Nov-20 20:39:59

Just updating - probably more for myself than anything as I hope over the next few months I’ll be able to look back on this thread and see how far we have come.

Play therapy is now booked and it’s such a relief to know that a professional will be able to support my child through this time, to help them open up about any trauma that may have occurred in a safe and confidential space.

They’ve said a bit more voluntarily which left me a shaking wreck (managed to keep calm and positive in front of them). Such a horrible situation to navigate but as before thank you for the fantastic advice it has been so appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
Demithemoore Tue 03-Nov-20 20:40:56

Just updating - probably more for myself than anything as I hope over the next few months I’ll be able to look back on this thread and see how far we have come.

Play therapy is now booked and it’s such a relief to know that a professional will be able to support my child through this time, to help them open up about any trauma that may have occurred in a safe and confidential space.

They’ve said a bit more voluntarily which left me a shaking wreck (managed to keep calm and positive in front of them). Such a horrible situation to navigate but as before thank you for the fantastic advice it has been so appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
Jellycatspyjamas Tue 03-Nov-20 22:33:38

Thanks for updating - you sound like you’re doing so well despite how hard it is - well done!

Demithemoore Thu 26-Nov-20 22:48:36

This is turning into some kind of personal MN diary but I’m glad (not sure that’s the right word but it fits for now) to say following just 2 play therapy sessions my child has opened up and said they were sexually abused. To me not the therapist but I truly think it must have unlocked something.

The how’s, where’s and when’s are still really unclear but I feel like it’s a huge breakthrough. Thank you to those that have posted previously, I honestly wouldn’t have looked for play therapy without starting this thread.

No idea where we go from here and am selfishly dreading a police case but equally so glad we can start moving forwards

OP’s posts: |
DaisyDreaming Fri 27-Nov-20 03:00:43

I’m so pleased the play therapist has helped your child open up to you. I can’t imagine how heart breaking it must be to hear

justilou1 Fri 27-Nov-20 03:14:37

Oh my darling, you poor thing! (And your poor, poor child!) SN kids are especially vulnerable to predators because they have different boundaries. I know you just wanted to protect your child and you are doing all the right things. I am so pleased your child is opening up to you and you have the therapy booked. I think you are also going to need some for yourself. I can’t stress this enough. You’re going to have to be strong through this as well. Everyone is going to tell you to forgive yourself, and I know it’s going to feel like empty words because to be a mother is to feel guilty no matter what you do/don’t do. While it is not your child’s responsibility to keep everyone else safe, I want this person out of action for YOUR sake and for your child’s sake. Just so that you know someone has really heard you - I’m really proud of you for having your child’s back and taking action as immediately as you have. You didn’t sit around waiting for it all to come out in the wash. I don’t think I could have either. You’re a really good mum.

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