As a general rule of thumb, if a child's responses (for example, nightmares and recurrent thoughts or fears) have been getting worse instead of better over time, consider seeking a referral to a trained and qualified mental health professional.
It is also not always easy to know what type of support children and adolescents need, or how to offer it. Here are some suggestions about ways to support your children, including open communication, emotional support, and practical support.
An easily printable one-page sheet of NCTSN recommendations on seeking help.
Finding Help for Sexually Abused Children
To find out more about organizations in your area that may provide trauma-focused therapy for childhood sexual abuse and are part of NCTSN, visit our National Network Members page If there are no NCTSN Partner Centers in your area, it may be useful to ask providers in your locale the following questions to determine if they offer trauma-focused therapy:
- Do you have experience in treating sexually abused children and their families?
- Do you offer treatments for sexually abused children that have been studied and have been demonstrated to be effective?
- Are you familiar with and have you used trauma-focused therapy with sexually abused children?
The publication Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse provides parents and caregivers with tools to help them support children who have been victims of sexual abuse, information on the importance of talking to children and youth about body safety, and guidance on how to respond when children disclose sexual abuse. Also included is advice on how to cope with the shock of intrafamilial abuse and with the emotional impact of legal involvement in sexual abuse cases.