"What do I do now?” is a mother's cry after she learns of her child’s sexual abuse. Research shows that one in four girls and one in six boys under eighteen are sexually abused, usually by someone they know and trust, often a father or father-figure. Many remember 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 from their child's disclosure is magnified when the perpetrator is a partner or spouse. Mothers often blame themselves and are blamed 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). It provides guidance through 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 practical strategies for communicating belief, support and protection, and moving towards recovery and resilience. Eight chapters address mothers' feelings, child sexual abuse information, disclosure, reporting, legal system, particularly 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 and counselors, clarifying mothers' dual traumas concerning their child’s hurt and their betrayal by a previously loved and trusted partner. The Guide encourages increased attention to children’s safety needs and understanding mothers’ dilemmas. It complements the website, www.MOSAC.net launched by author Mel Langston, PhD in 2010, with subsequent 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 beyond victimhood, from surviving to thriving, to recovery and resilience.