Yes − and they need access to it immediately.
Victims of abuse are likely to experience a variety of challenges, from feelings of sadness or anger to acting nervous or scared. They may have difficulty sleeping or may even have changes in behavior, with increased outbursts or tantrums. With these changes and struggles, normal parental support and care may not be enough to help the child improve feelings or behaviors.
There are now evidence-based treatments for children and their families that have been scientifically proven to reduce the negative feelings and behaviors that can occur in victims of abuse. These interventions focus on making the child feel safe, control his response to stressful memories or situations and increase the communication between child and parent. At the same time, parents are given additional tools to meet the new emotional and behavioral needs of their child.
After an episode of abuse, some children may appear “normal.” We know that some of these “normal”-looking children will develop problems with their emotions, behaviors or sleep several weeks to months after a traumatic event. Children who have experienced abuse benefit from talking to someone where they can express their feelings about the event, receive praise for being so brave to tell others about the abuse, and learn safety skills that can reduce the risk of abuse in the future.
Children of all ages who are victims of abuse can benefit from treatment. Some children benefit after just a couple of sessions and other children with more severe emotional and behavioral challenges may require a longer amount of time before they feel normal again. After the initial visit, a treatment plan created by you and the abuse specialist will estimate the amount of time and type of intervention required to meets the specific needs of your child.
For further information on the common emotional and behavioral struggles of victims as well as treatments designed for abused children, visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network