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The Shock of an Adult Child Reporting Sexual Abuse


The shock of abuse is significant and many doubts will try to overshadow the truth. Keep in mind that the intention of reporting abuse is not to hurt anyone but to reveal the truth of a predator in the family or community. Adult victims have nothing to gain by reporting the abuse that happened in their childhood except to stop a known perpetrator from sexually molesting other children in the family. Your child has kept this secret and has never learned how to deal with the pain. This news may turn your world upside down along with your spouse and other family members.


  1. The family should not continue to hide the abuse.

  2. The family must demand a full investigation inside the family and ask tough questions. For example, “Who else did this person sexually abused?”

  3. DO NOT put the provision of the perpetrator ahead of what is right.

  4. The family will feel shame, embarrassment, confusion and some may blame the victim and label her/him a liar. They may even think the victim has always been a problem child. Victims may have previously caused issues in the family due to the sexual abuse that was happening to them as a cry for help and had nowhere to turn for that pain. The parents should have suspected sexual abuse.

  5. The family should realize that a report of sexual abuse may explain a lot of other issues and behaviors.

  6. The family needs to understand that victims will hide their childhood sexual abuse until they can hide it no more. Revealing the truth about their abuse actually becomes a part of the necessary healing process.

  7. The family will discover or know about other victims. Some victims may deny it or say, “I’m over it.” or “I've forgiven the person.” -- but the family needs to understand forgiveness does not override the crime. The family must unite for the higher cause by understanding that most child molesters have many victims as high as 200-400 in their lifetime. The family needs to protect future victims by stopping known molesters.

  8. People who don’t report molestation can become an accessory to the crime and receive equal time.

  9. If your adult child has now come forward about childhood sexual abuse, begin with your compassion for her/him. Realize how long this painful secret has been kept. Most times the victim is controlled by the perpetrator and the thought of the truth coming out will make them become fearful of him/her (even as an adult).

  10. Expect the report of abuse to produce havoc in your family. Families can feel a range of emotions and experience a sense of a shattered family dynamic. Your family may also need to heal but not at the price of causing more pain to the victim. It is more important to be the hero and proclaim, “We will not allow a molester to go free and roam around the children ever again!”


“The family who does not protect their children from predators, may the blood of those children be on their hands.” –Dr. Kaye Smith





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