Caring for the Caregiver
Child sexual abuse impacts both the child and their family system. Caregivers of children who have been sexually abused may experience a wide range of emotions following a child’s disclosure. Common reactions may include but are not limited to feeling shocked or numb, anger, disbelief, denial, hatred toward the offender, feelings of insignificance, guilt, shame, and betrayal. Every person is different and emotional responses vary to each individual situation. Caregivers may show one of these reactions or any combination of them. The most important thing a caregiver can do for their self and their child is to find someone to listen and express their emotions in a healthy and adaptive manner. It is important that caregivers take care of themselves and their emotional well-being in order to take care of their child.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has stressed the importance of the caregivers role in their child’s healing process stating “Parents and caregivers can play a very important role in helping children and adolescents recover from their traumatic experiences. They may feel isolated in their efforts, but they are not alone.” At PASAC, parents are encouraged to be involved in their child’s treatment. PASAC also offers a support group for non-offending caregivers which occurs quarterly. This group gives caregivers an opportunity to provide support for one another and learn about the importance of self-care in addition to learning about the impact of trauma on their child and family system and positive parenting strategies.
Simply put, self-care is taking time to care for you. In order to engage in self-care, an individual must believe it is ok to spend time on themselves and that it is beneficial to do so. Examples of self-care include deep breathing, imagery exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, practicing mindfulness, yoga, journaling, and engaging in expressive activities.
For more information on self-care ideas follow the links below:
For more information about our non-offending parent support group contact us at 270-534-4422 Monday through Friday from 9 am- 5 pm.
Erin Heltsley, M.A., L.P.P.