Child disclosing past sexual abuse to school children

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Hi all,

This is a tricky one.

Our 2 dds were both abused by a birth family member and our eldest (10) has started discussing this in school. There have been 2 separate incidents within the last few weeks. Firstly, it was shouted at a group of boys because they didn't want dd to play with them (it's not fair - I was abused!). The second incident was a week later when she told two much younger girls. The school think on both occasions, she'd said it because she wanted attention / people to feel sorry for her.

After the first occasion I explained that she can always talk about this at home if she wants to - because home is a safe place where she can talk about whatever is troubling her. I also tried to explain that we need to be very careful what we say to people we don't know, because it's not possible to take something back once it's been said. I was speaking on the hoof slightly, but tried to help her see her past as something that could be shared with a really, really good friend when she is older - but that children probably wouldn't be able to understand.

I've just had a call from the school to say they were contacted this morning by another parent. Apparently dd told her children she'd been sexually abused. Fortunately, the other parent is a school teacher and has been very considerate about it. This would have been Friday last week.

I don't want dd to feel ashamed, but I'd like her to know that this is something she can talk about at home, but it would be better if she didn't discuss it at school with people she barely knows....

I'm lost for what to do. She doesn't have many friends and tries extremely hard, but isn't very popular. She's going to high school next year and I'd really hoped this could be a fresh start for her.

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I would separate the two issues as much as possible for her.

I have one daughter who would love to share her story at school, while my other one wants to keep things private. I have always insisted they keep things private. Like you, I have explained that you can't take it back and that the person you told might tell others who you don't want to know (my daughter likes to be in control, so she didn't like the sound of that). I have made them aware that they don't know much about their friends either, by asking "Do you know the name of soandso's auntie or grandmother?" Of course the answer was no. I have explained that we all keep things private. We talk about everything openly within our family, but that is where it stays. To me that has nothing to do with being ashamed. EVERYONE keeps things private, so doing that is normal.

Struggles with friendships are painful to experience and to watch. I would explain that pity is no foundation for a friendship. One of my daughters feels a bit on the outside. It is a process I think. I have conversations with her about what she likes in people and why she thinks some others are very popular. My daughter has no clue yet about what makes an interesting comment or story and often just grabs the attention and babbles. We let her watch sitcoms, to help her get a better feeling for punchlines etc. What do you think is your daughter's precise problem? Why are others not that keen? Does your daughter has a hobby which might help her make friends, like playing an instrument, doing dance or the like?

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Oh dear, they do leak like holey buckets sometimes! There’s more to it than attention seeking. This is vulnerability and your child’s need to be understood. Further, kids do all the gory details and often embellish things along the way. It has a marked effect on kidsand adults and is a powerful manipulation tool. Please get hold of adoption uk’s leaflet on false allegations as this may follow but contact your post adoption team and get them involved.

I’m trying to remember which one it was now but there’s an excellent child / parent book and therapeutic story by Margot Sunderland. Something about ruby I think it was. Anyway, check out her stuff on amazon. It helped my son a great deal

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What therapeutic input did she get/is she getting? Do you think it's a need to re-process what happened as she gets older?

I was able to keep back some of the socially trickier info until she understood the difference between secrets and privacy, but you don't get that choice. Then suggested various people it was OK to talk about it with - could there be a 'special' person at school (her teacher?) that she can talk to?

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Thanks for the comments / advice.

Tokoloshe - She hasn't had therapeutic support yet (apart from us), but I think she may be getting to the stage where she's stable enough for us to start thinking about it. She has a few special people at school she can talk to at school - and is in a number of nurture groups, etc specifically for this purpose. I did discuss with her last night the people she could talk to if she wants to and she seemed happy with that. I am slightly anxious about pushing it too far though, as she does have a habit of finding excuses to have that special 'chat' with a teacher.

Pear Tree - I did have a quick look at the books you suggested, but need to give it some more thought. Sadly, I think one of the challenges we face is that dd has a very black and white narrative regarding her relationships with her peers. Her view is that the children are mean to me and I've done nothing wrong. I suspect the reality is more like she is socially quite 'in your face', has low self esteem and cannot bear to 'lose' a game so and has a habit of making up rules in order to ensure she always 'wins'. The other kids get tired of this and some of the less tolerant ones resort to calling her names. Believe me, she gives as good as she gets but would never admit to it.

Chesnut tree - that's really helpful. You're right. I need to keep the friendship problem and the disclosure separate.

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If she needs that 'special chat' with someone then she needs it. Something I have tried to get through to DDs school! In the circumstances yes, there are times she needs extra attention to feel safe and cared for. The challenge for the adults around her is to make it safe for her to be able to say that and not have to use an excuse. To be able to identify feelings and ask for help is a huge step forward

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