Delayed disclosures are common and are not a reflection of a poor parent-child relationship. Sometimes children will say that they didn’t want to “hurt” or “upset” their parents because they love them so much. Child sexual abuse is, by its very nature, secretive. It almost always occurs when the child is alone with the offender. An offender may directly threaten physical harm to the child or beloved family members if he or she tells, or coerce the child with promises, gifts, or other verbal persuasion. It’s common for children to blame themselves, fear punishment, or be afraid that they will not be believed. A child may feel embarrassed and ashamed. The avoidance, which is part of post-traumatic stress reactions, may make a child simply try to forget what happened. Many children who have experienced sexual abuse grow up before they tell anyone about what happened.
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