When a kid discloses abuse:
As an adult, focus on only TWO THINGS:
- REMOVE THE KID FROM DANGER (as permanently as possible). This may be as simple as bringing the child to the closest Child Advocacy Center immediately.
- REPORT THE ABUSE TO THE POLICE OR CHILD SERVICES.
Very few survivors of child abuse EVER tell anyone, so if this happens, it's almost a miracle. That kid has chosen to entrust YOU with the terror he or she is facing.
3. If you're not the kid's parent, inform the parents immediately.
4. If it doesn't seem to be happening currently in the kid's life, but happened in the past, and you're convinced the kid is NOT IN DANGER, you're still required to report it to the authorities.
Now, having done that several times, I will tell you that the authorities are not always responsive. You need to report it so that there's a record, regardless.
5. After those crucial two things (removing and reporting), parents or caretakers should immediately look into counseling and psychological evaluation for the kid, and set up a counseling appointment ASAP. They should also receive training on parenting kids with PTSD. Again, the best resource is your local Child Advocacy Center.
6. After some time has passed & the kid feels safe, tell the kid something like this: "I believe what you told me. What happened to you was wrong, and not your fault. It should never happen to anyone. Let's talk about ways to avoid being in the same situation again. Here's what you should do if it starts happening again: say 'no!,' escape the situation, and call me." THEY NEED THESE WORDS. They'll actually need you to repeat these words throughout their lives. Their healing & lifelong recovery from abuse begins with the way adults respond to it. Show them that some adults really do prioritize their health and safety.
7. Keep in touch. Once a plan is in place to actively address the situation from the angles of mental health, physical health, and criminal justice, check in regularly to let the kid know you care & you're here to help and support.