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Reasons why children do not tell

Reasons why children do not tell

Some of the many reasons children give for not telling include:
  • Shame or embarrassment
  • Self blame - they feel responsible
  • Prior victimization
  • Fear of loss, punishment or other consequences
  • Fear no one will believe them
  • Attachment and loyalty to the offender
  • Cultural rules about privacy
  • Instruction to secrecy
  • Domestic violence
  • May believe s/he is protecting siblings from abuse
  • Doesn't want to break up the family
Children often feel a sense of guilt over the abuse, and they may also experience self-destructive thoughts or a loss of trust or self-esteem. Some of these signs may not even be obvious until the child becomes an adult. At first, they may deny that anything has happened when asked, or they will not tell the whole story the first time.

Disclosure is a process, not an event!

REMEMBER: Child sexual abuse can happen to any child in any community. If the parent's reaction to the child is disbelief, the child may wonder if their feelings are mistaken. Children do not want to cause problems for their parents and will not tell about abuse thinking they are "protecting" their mom and dad. Also, they fear that telling will make people angry at them.