23 July 2015
Finding out that your child has been sexually exploited is not easy. However it is just the start of their recovery, and they’ll need your help and support in order to rebuild their lives and cope with the trauma they’ve experienced.
In order to provide the care, understanding and safe environment a sexually exploited child needs, parents need to educate themselves about how CSE can impact a child and how young people feel after abuse.
Sexual exploitation can be very traumatic for a child and many display complex behaviours in the weeks, months or even years after the abuse.
From mood swings and aggression to overtly sexualised behaviour and withdrawal, young people can react in a variety of ways to sexual exploitation.
It’s important that parents understand that this behaviour is a symptom of the abuse. By being patient and staying calm, you can help to defuse any emotional situations and help your child to regain control of their lives.
Changing feelings towards places in the home
Many victims of sexual exploitation will have strong reactions to places that are similar to those where the abuse took place.
So if they were abused in a bathroom, they may find it difficult to be in the bathroom in your home at the same time as other people or even on their own. The same goes for bedrooms and even whole parts of your local area.
Some young people will also become very guarded about their own space, cherishing their privacy and becoming angry when they feel it is being intruded on.
Most of your child’s peers won’t understand the trauma that they’ve been through and some may start to see them as being different, especially if the abuse leads onto a court case.
This in turn can lead to bullying. It’s important to be aware that your child could become the victim of bullying and to watch out for the warning signs.
A lot of young people affected by child sexual exploitation will suffer from low self-esteem following the abuse.
From thinking they are worthless to believing no one will love them unless they perform sexual favours, young people who have suffered sexual exploitation can find it difficult to believe in their own self-worth.
How parents can help
The best way for parents to help a child who has been sexually exploited is to be aware of the difficult emotional state their child will be in and to try and support them through it.
If they want to talk to someone outside of the family or get a bit of extra support, point them to the Rose website and blog for lots of useful information. They can call us for free on 0808 800 1037 or if they’re more comfortable using a computer than talking over the phone, they can chat to us via our online live chat function you’ll find in the bottom corner of the screen.