How to Recognize Children's Disclosure
It is not always obvious when children disclose about sexual abuse and can be easy to miss. Children are usually not this clear and direct: I was sexually abused. It might sound more like: I don’t want to go to Uncle Joe’s house anymore or Please don’t leave me alone with her.
Children might disclose all at once but are more likely to give a little information at a time. This could happen over several hours, weeks, months, or even years as the children test the reactions to their words.
During disclosure, children might seem hesitant, confused, or uncertain. Afterwards, they might even deny the abuse ever happened. This is not an indication that the abuse did not occur. Children often tell us more through their behaviors than their words. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for.
It is also important to keep this information in mind when considering whether a child may be hinting to you about his or her own sexually inappropriate behavior as this type of disclosure could look the same (e.g., the child might seem confused, uncertain, or hesitant).
In all situations, communication is key. Regular, daily chats with your children about their activities and feelings can increase the likelihood that they would share any concerns they have with you.
Pay Attention to Your Child's Behavior
Click here for a list of behaviors that may indicate sexual abuse.
How to Respond to Disclosure
Click here for tips about how to respond to a child's disclosure about sexual abuse.