Abuse is never a fun subject to discuss or even acknowledge, but unfortunately, it exists. Whether you’re speaking of emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, or mental abuse, it is sure to injure and traumatize the well-being of the abused person, especially when that person is a mere child. If you’re the foster parent of a formerly abused child, it can be difficult to know how to help them. While every child is different, here are some things to keep in mind.
Give Them Time
Abuse, regardless of type, is devastating. It cuts deeply into a person in ways hard to describe or imagine, and it isn’t something which simply goes away once it stops. The wounds are still there, and still hurting. Give the child time to let the sharpness of the pain ease, but realize that there will always be a scar, and that there will always be some measure of pain. Don’t assume that just because time has passed they’re okay now. Don’t pressure them to “get better” simply because you think they’ve had long enough to heal.
Show Them They Matter
One of the messages that abuse sends is one of worthlessness. The abuser is essentially saying, through his actions, that the other person’s wishes, personal space, and body aren’t worth respect or deference. Find ways to contradict these negative messages with positive affirmations of his or her worth and personality. Help them find a hobby or interest so as to help redefine their individuality. Remember that while they might be injured, they aren’t worth less because of it, and their experience doesn’t have to be something which stops them from doing incredible things with their life.
Give Them Space
Perhaps your kid just needs some time alone. Perhaps she can’t handle hugging people. Or perhaps the slightest touch is enough to frighten your child. Hard as it may be to step back or allow your child to seem rude to other family members and friends, it’s important that they never be forced to let someone into their personal space. Make sure they know that they have the right to refuse touch, and that it must always be consensual.
Validate Their Pain
Never downplay or gloss over their experience. Don’t act as if they’re exaggerating or lying, and make sure that they know you don’t approve of what happened to them. Hearing you acknowledge that what they went through isn’t okay may be a big part of them healing and slowly moving on in life.
As a foster parent, you will want to make sure that the children have the proper contact with their parent’s defense attorney if they want it. Good defense attorneys like those from Keyser Law come into play as they help protect the rights of the abused children as well as fight for the parent’s visitation rights and to care for their children as well.
Healing may not be fast or easy, but don’t give up hope. Your child may have many battles to fight, but having your aid can be an invaluable help.