BUILD A RELATIONSHIP ON HOPE & TRUST
series: PREVENTING SEXUAL ABUSE by meera seshadri
The children who have experienced sexual abuse or violence are not accustomed to having their boundaries respected, obviously that's a huge violation of their personal space and safety. Building trust with them as a caregiver is going to be really important. Setting a boundary is important because that's not something that's been modeled for them before, especially if they've experienced something that traumatic.
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Making sure that you are respectful of their personal space and that you don't introduce physical touch unless it's asked for. Making sure that you don't make promises that you can't keep, because they will get very attached and likely feel very happy and affectionate in a space that is so positive after so many negative experiences. Also, ensuring that you don't promise something that you can't make good on because younger children especially are going to latch onto those things and hope for them.
Ensuring that whatever is within your capacity to offer you do, but keeping in mind that they may not be with you forever and you will not be with them forever. So really working on their sense of what do you want for your future and what are the hopes that you have? What are you good at? What do you like doing.
These things will help them think of a future beyond where they are right now, which is really important in helping them to flourish beyond the negative experiences that they've had and not let that define them.
Meera is a health communications specialist, researcher, and activist working at the intersection of gender-based violence prevention and sexual health promotion. She has spent over a decade working to increase access to, and utilization of, comprehensive...
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sexual health resources for adolescents in communities worldwide, developing violence prevention and education programs at Emory, Georgetown, and Harvard Universities and working as a consultant and curriculum development specialist for Soteria Solutions, the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the World Bank.
She is passionate about confronting the ideological and institutional challenges that affect young people's health, wellness, and autonomy. Meera works in coalition with university, non-profit, corporate, and community stakeholders to create policies and environments that prioritize gender equity, intersectionality, and social justice.