12 Common Reactions to Disclosure of Abuse Many parents will experience a sense of disbelief and denial...similar to feelings of losing a childIf child does not disclose promptly parent may not understand why no immediate disclosureWhy wouldn’t they tell themWhy wouldn't they do what I told them to doInteresting in doing research that non-offending caregivers have similar feelings to victims of other crimes...numbness
13 Emotions and Feelings Numbness: Inability to feel any emotion Some mom’s have described feeling like they were standing in the middle and everything was swirling around them…but they were not actually part of what was happening.
14 Emotions and Feelings Distance: Feeling of being separated from people and events around youThis is an opportunity to step back and examine what is occurring.Some women will “run away” to family or friends to think.
15 Emotions and Feelings: AngerToward everyone around themor more focusedThe mom may be angry at the child for “doing this” or a the offender for violating the child, or for betraying them. She may be angry at CPS or Law Enforcement for talking to the child without their permission or for taking the child away.The crucial thing here is getting the mom to focus her anger on the guilty party…the offender. Properly focused, this anger can be a very healthy way to process the crisis.
16 Emotions and Feelings: Disbelief:“Is this real”This is important! Many mom’s will experience disbelief upon learning of the allegation. This is normal and does not mean that she will not be supportive of the child, however if when presented with the evidence, the mom continues to disbelieve, then they may need to be handled as a non-supportive parent, which we will talk more about later.
17 Emotions and Feelings: Guilty & Shame:what happened is their faultthey brought Defendant into homeMother’s frequently blame themselves for not knowing what was happening or not having the type of relationship with their child that would have allowed them to tell right away.Mom’s frequently say “my child and I are so close, I can’t believe she didn’t tell me”.It is helpful here to explain the dynamics of child abuse and the importance of the secrecy issue to keep the relationship going.
18 Emotions and Feelings: Religious Concerns:some women feel either they or child are being punished by God for something they did...Some women have religious beliefs that effect their perception of abuse. If they feel that their god is punishing their child they may not be the best caretaker for the child. They may allow the perpetrator to influence the child or they may verbally berate the child for their role in the incident.
19 Emotions and FeelingsCultural Concerns:Immigration issuesStigma
20 Emotions and Feelings: Denialsome mothers do not believe their childespecially if defendant deniesMom’s in denial will resist any information or evidence that proves the allegation. Denial is a very powerful emotional tool that is used to protect us from the pain of the truth.Unfortunately denial that doesn’t resolve fairly quickly is a huge red flag.If denial persists, the child could be left unprotected so these types of situations have to be watched very carefully.
21 Emotions and Feelings Hurt or Betrayal: non-offending may have feelings toward offender or child
22 Emotions and Feelings: Jealousy:Jealousy can also be a red flag. If the mom doesn’t recognize her jealousy and deal with it appropriately in therapy there can be problems. If she focuses her jealousy on the child it can be dangerous. This is often a sign of more of a “friendship” with her child then “mother/child” relationship.
23 Emotions and Feelings: Sexual Inadequacy or Rejection:many women feel not sexy enough
24 Emotions and Feelings: Minimizing the Seriousness:many women will tell themselves that it is not as serious at it appearsAnyone that has worked in the field of child sexual abuse has heard a mom say “ok, he shouldn’t have done it but he can GET OVER IT”This can also be a red flag…if mom doesn’t get passed this stage fairly quickly she may not be supportive of the child
25 Emotions and Feelings: Revenge:some women feel need to “get even” with the offenderWe have all probably seen the video tape of the mom that shot her son’s molester in the courtroom. There is also video of a dad that shoots a man that molested his daughter.I think we can all understand the feelings of revenge that would come along in a case like this.When a mom expresses a need for revenge you need to remind her that it is normal to think about harming someone who has harmed your child. This is a basic instinct. However, if you act on that instinct you could end up in prison yourself and that is not helpful to your child. You need to keep supervisors and attorneys aware of any threats that mom makes against the perpetrator.
26 Working with non-offending caregiver on investigation Initiate as soon as possibleDocument everythingEmphasize protection of child
27 One Party ConsentOne Party Consent Call - A recorded call between the victim and suspect that is monitored by police.During the call the victim discusses and confronts the suspect with details of the abuse.Purpose is to gain true admissions from suspect.
28 What can you gain from the call? Full confession from defendantPartial admission from defendantInsight in to defendant’s mind/way of thinking that can be used during interrogationA great piece of evidence that can be used to play for the jury.Very little risk.
29 Emotions and Feelings Confusion and Doubt The loss of what may be the main income for the family is devastating. Some women find themselves unable to pay the mortgage/rent, car payments, monthly expenses and grocery bills. In my experience, this is probably the single biggest reason that women let offenders back in their homes.
30 Emotions and Feelings: Hatred:some women experience intense hatred for the offenderThese feeling may include not only hatred of the act but of the consequences of the act. This is a very understandable response. However, mom needs to be encouraged to keep her hatred in check when in court.
31 Emotions and Feelings Repulsion: some women may feel repulsed (especially sexually) by the offenderIn some cases, the mother may be so repulsed that she becomes physically ill, including nausea and vomiting. Some mothers may not be able to sit in the court room and listen to a case without becoming physically ill.
32 Emotions and Feelings: Financial Issues:hardship to familysole breadwinnerMany parents in this situation are racked with self-doubt in their ability to parent, their ability to cope their ability to make choices and their ability to trust.Try to guide them to trust their instincts, keeping in mind that a trusted family member (maybe an in-law,etc) may no longer be sympathetic.
33 Factors That Influence Emotional Reaction Varies based on variety of factors:Was mother sexually abused as child?How does she normally cope with crises in general
34 Factors That Influence Emotional Reaction What is relationship with the child?What kind of relationship with offender?Friends and Family...supportive?
35 Factors That Influence Emotional Reaction Did she suspect a problem?What are cultural or religious beliefs?What are her values?
36 Common Questions from Caregivers: What type of behavior am I looking for?
37 Common Reactions from Abused Children: Early sexual activityEarly appearance of maturityActing out behaviorsWithdrawn behaviorsConfusion or lack of trust...especially younger children
38 Common Reactions from Abused Children: Sleep disordersEating disordersLearning disabilities or high achiever
39 Common Questions: Does my child need counseling? excellent opportunity to gently suggest counseling to both child and non-offending caregiver...
40 Common Questions: Whose fault was this? assure caregiver never child’s fault.not caregiver’s fault eitherHelp the mom place the blame appropriately on the offender. Five year olds are not seductive…unless they have been groomed by an offender to be so.The adult is always responsible.
41 Common Questions: Did my child enjoy the sex? might be some aspect of it that was pleasurable to child...but still abuseThe child (particularly if they are little older) may have experienced some physical pleasure during the abuse. They may also have physical injury and pain. A sense of physical pleasure does not negate the emotional trauma the child may have suffered at the same time.
42 Common Questions: Why do I feel jealousy toward my daughter? normal reaction....Some women will see their daughters as a competitor for their partner’s affection. They must be reminded that this is a child and it only serves the offender to have mother and child at odds.
43 Common Questions: Why is my child so angry at me? MOM SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!!!Protection/AngerYoung kids think that parents know everything…and when that is not the case the child may get angry at them for not knowing and not protecting them.By not blaming the child and being supportive the mom can encourage the child to overcome this anger. This is an issue that needs to be addressed in counseling.
44 Common Questions: Will my child have sexual problems later in life? some children do experience lasting effects from CSA that severely effect their sexual relationships as adultsothers do notcounseling helps
45 Common Questions: What effect will this have on other children? often very confusing time for non-victimized siblingsjealousyconfusionanger
46 Common Questions: How will the abuse affect my child in the future? every child reacts differentlyseriousness and durationrelationship between offender and childTypically the more serious the abuse (penetration) the more likely the child will suffer emotional trauma.If the abuse went on for a long time vs. a one time incident will also influence the child’s reaction.The closer the relationship between the offender and the child the more likely that significant emotional harm will occur.But again, each child is different and there is no sure fire predictor.
47 Common Questions: How can I re-establish trust in my family? discuss feelings with childrenencourage children to do the same
48 What Mom’s Say they Need the Most: Studies suggest that parents who receive less social or environmental support are more distressed and less supportive of their children. Theoretically then if we can offer parents services designed to increase their coping skills, they in turn become better able to help their children.
49 Non-Offending Caregiver Needs: Someone to talk toSpecific information about what happenedSomeone to discuss their own sexual abuse
50 Non-Offending Caregiver Needs: Support Group InformationSeparation from offender to figure things outTo be treated as a person
51 Non-Offending Caregiver Needs: The ability to make basic life decisionsTo know options regarding custodyTo regain control of their life
52 Non-Offending Caregiver Needs: To understand issues related to domestic violence and child abuseWays to safeguard children in the futureTo understand how children will react
53 Working as a mdt to support Studies conducted by Lisa Jones, Wendy Walsh, Theodore Cross & Monique SiomoneCare giver satisfaction substantially higher in CAC communitiesServices higher
54 Getting Through the System: Studies have shown that children who feel loved and supported by their mother through this process will recover from the trauma more quickly.This is the most important part of this entire program. There are not a lot of studies on child abuse and non-offending caregivers. But the one issue that has been researched and that we know is true is the critical element of parental support in the child’s recovery.Kendall-Tackett, Meyer Williams, & Finkelhor, 1993 p. 172
55 Following Tips May Help: Encourage mother to believe childMothers can begin to cope with reality of situation once they trust their child.Gently encourage mothers to make decisions for herself and her familytrust and controlextremely low self-esteem
56 Tips: Support Network: many will suffer significant distress PTSD DepressionGeneral Symptoms of DistressLike many crime victims….many mothers need someone to talk to.Support groups can be very useful to non-offending caregivers. A support group allows them to process what has happened in a supportive environment with people who have had similar experiences. It is my experience that it can also make them much stronger. Support groups are an effective tool for victim assistance workers. A mother who is strengthened by a support group will provide better support for their child. Where I worked in Florida, we had a fabulous mom’s group that met at the same time at the same facility as our children’s groups.
57 Tips: Encourage mothers to speak with children What child needs to hear:not their faultmom will try and protect themmom trusts and believes them
58 prepping parent for court Can be as important as preparing child for courtParents can be as anxious as child
59 Non-Offending Parent / Guardian Preparation Explain time frames both prior to and during the trial.Explain the need to have child physically and emotionally ready for trial.The caregiver is a vital allies.should be given instructions on how to prepare the v for court.TIME FRAMES: inform so they can deal with delaysTIPS: Have mom pack a lunch for V and selfFORNEY CASE EXAMPLEPHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY READY*prepare as you would for other stressful events-doc, dentist, test*good night sleep*good dinner and good breakfastFORNEY EXAMPLE
60 Victim advocate can conduct court orientation/“kids in court” school Ideally court preparation should be a joint effort between the prosecutor and the victim advocate.Victim advocate can conduct court orientation/“kids in court” schoolVictim advocate should/may accompany child and prosecutor on a court visitSomeone familiar, may be support person
61 Victim Advocates and Court Preparation Victim advocate may/should take the role of liaison between parents and prosecutor’s office.Victim advocate should provide support and information to child and family throughout process.Victim advocate and prosecutor should have frequent contact.
62 Non-Supportive Parent: Imperative to child’s well-being that non- supportive parent be identified as soon as possible.CPSVictim AdvocateLet MDT team know....
63 Non-Supportive Parent: If attempts to convince mom have failed, removing the child needs to be seriously considered. Leaving the child in a non- supportive environment can cause the child significant emotional harm. It also significantly increases the likelihood of recantation.
64 Suggested Reading: Byerly, Carolyn M. (1985) The Mother’s Book Gomes-Schwartz, Beverly (1990) Child Sexual Abuse: The Initial Effects. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage.Myers, John E.B. (1997) A Mother’s Nightmare-Incest. Thousand Oaks, CA: SageNational Research Council. (1993) Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press
65 Thank you...Questions?Contact Information:Robert GilesNDAA/NCPCAAlexandria, VA