"What do I do now?" is a mother's cry after she learns her child has been sexually abused. Research shows that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before age eighteen, usually by someone they know and trust, often by a father or father-figure. Many children remember the abuse only in adolescence or adulthood. A mother's belief in her child's disclosure and her active support and protection after disclosure are essential to recovery from the horror of sexual abuse.
Mothers' trauma resulting from their child's disclosure is magnified when the perpetrator is a partner or spouse. Mothers often blame themselves and are blamed by others for not knowing about the abuse. This acute crisis is like a nuclear bomb explosion in the family, with devastating immediate and longer-term consequences.
The Survival Guide is especially for mothers of sexually abused children (MOSAC). The Guide provides practical answers, offers guidance through the post-disclosure crisis, assists mothers in understanding themselves and their child, presents options for effectively navigating the very difficult path on which a mother finds herself, and offers sensible strategies for communicating belief, support and protection and moving towards recovery and resilience. Eight chapters address mothers' feelings, child sexual abuse information, effects of disclosure, reporting and the legal system dealing with especially difficult situations, emotional support, safety strategies, and healing and recovery. The Appendix includes education, prevention, intervention, legal and reporting resources, and selected books and films.
The Guide is also useful for legal and child welfare professionals, counselors and therapists. It clarifies mothers' dual traumas: dealing with their child's wounding and their guilt for not having protected their child, as well as their betrayal by a previously loved and trusted partner. The Guide may encourage increased attention to children's safety needs and compassion for mothers.
The Guide complements the website, www.MOSAC.net launched by author Mel Langston, PhD in 2010, followed by Facebook and Twitter accounts and a Facebook mothers' support group.
Mel Langston, PhD, motivated by personal experience with child sexual abuse, is a licensed therapist in Astoria, Oregon, with over 30 years' professional experience working with mothers and sexually abused children. Leona Puma, writer, mother and trauma survivor with experience of child sexual abuse, seeks to help mothers and children move from victimhood to recovery and resilience.
Many collaborators, mothers, adult children, and professionals, assisted in the development of the Guide, providing feedback, ideas and encouragement.
The Survival Guide is dedicated to mothers and sexually abused children with hope that it will help with their recovery and resilience.