How to Support Your Child

Learning that your child has been the victim of any sort of Sexual Misconduct can be heartbreaking, and it is common to feel lost or confused about what the next step should be. We have compiled ideas for things you can say and do in order to best support your child and yourself as you navigate this difficult time.

What to Say
  • Let them know you are glad they felt comfortable sharing this information with you; speaking out can be very difficult for a victim, and it is important to understand that their trust in you is something you should value.

  • Ask your child what they need from you; assure them that you are there for support whenever and however they need.

  • “I love you.” “How can I best support you?”

What to Do
  • Be aware of how you are reacting to what your child has told you; your reaction may influence whether or not they choose to share information with others, including the police, the University, or mental and physical health counseling services.

  • Listen without judgment. Though it often goes the other way around (with the child listening to the parent), in this instance it is important that you acknowledge and respect what your child is saying.

  •  Educate yourself on the various resources available through the University and within Charlottesville. This website includes the CavCare Support for Students section and/or the CavCare Support for Employees section; provide these resources to your child.

  • Allow your child to decide the next steps. They are the ones in control right now, and while it may be difficult to take a step back from deciding what they do and when, support them regardless of what they decide.

  • Check in with your emotions. When a child goes through something traumatic, it is natural to grieve and be deeply affected by what has happened to them. However, if a child sees a parent losing emotional control or struggling, they may feel guilt or shame for sharing what happened.

  • Check in with your child; remind them that you love and support them. The process of healing can be a long, winding road; make sure your child knows that you are there for them long-term.

Take Care of Yourself
  • Many resources available to students and employees are also available to you.

  • Ensuring that you are caring for yourself will allow you to have the capacity to also better support your child.

  • Neglecting your own physical, mental, and/or emotional health during this time may make it more difficult to care for your child.

What Not to Do
  • Don’t react in a way that means your child feels obligated to comfort you; while this situation can be difficult for parents, it is your job to be there for your child, and not the other way around. They have a lot going on right now, and they do not need to add caring for you to that list.

  • If your child reports experiencing treatment that violates the University’s Policy, don’t place blame on them; even if they broke a rule you had for them while they were home (such as “no drinking on school nights”), this was not their fault.

  • Don’t force them to rush their healing process. Doing things like reminding them of their upcoming exam, pushing them to go out and socialize, to “get over it,” or even asking them when they are coming home to visit can come across as ignorant and may seem as though you see this traumatic experience as something insignificant and easy to move past.