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Five Good Responses

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By the Georgia Counsel on Child Abuse

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If a child tells you that he/she has been abused, there are five important things to say during the initial conversation. These are:

1. I believe you

                 2. I am glad you told me.

                                            3. It is not your fault that this happened

                  4. (Sexual) abuse is wrong

                                    5. I will help you so that it will stop. 

The following are examples of possible ways to begin such a conversation. Use these only as a guide and adapt to fit your style of talking.

1.  I have been worried about you lately. Is there anything that you would like to talk about?

2.  Something seems to be bothering you. Would you like to talk so that I may help you?

3.  I have been able to help other children who have problems. If you would be willing to tell me what is bothering you, maybe I can help you, too.

4. If a child asks you to promise not to tell anyone, it is important to let the child know that you are not   able to promise that right now, but that you do promise to help him/her in anyway you can.

5.  If a child describes a problem that is happening to a friend, ask him/her if anything like that has ever happened to you.

Responses to avoid:

1. Are you sure that is happening?

2. Are you telling me the truth?

3. Why are you telling me?

4. Let me know if it happens again.

5. Why didn’t you stop him? or What did you do to make this happen?

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Blessings to you.