There are many risks and protective factors pertaining to child sexual abuse. The more protective factors there are in place for individuals, families, and communities, the less likely harm is to occur. Protective factors for mitigating child sexual abuse include parents and caregivers who create safe, positive relationships with the children in their care. This is accomplished by practicing nurturing parenting/caregiving skills that promote emotional wellbeing and healthy communication. Discussing topics such as consent/permission and body sovereignty from a young age promotes children’s understanding of safe and unsafe touch and fosters a relationship in which children feel comfortable sharing about their concerns with their parents/caregivers. Protective factors are rooted in the means and consistency in which parents and caregivers can meet the basic needs of the children in their care, including nutrition, shelter, education, health care, as well as healthy and strong social support networks.
Although traumatic experiences cannot be reversed, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study points to the following prophylactic intervention: Healthy relationships with healthy people. Radiant Futures Clinical Advocates provide trauma informed mental health treatment for children, youth, and adults who have experienced sexual abuse as children. Clinical Advocates are trained to assess, provide psychoeducation, and support survivors as they process their trauma experiences and build resiliency. Therapeutic interventions for survivors of sexual abuse include dynamics of play, art, sand tray, somatic experiences and mindfulness, and are under the umbrella of the ever-important Rogerian approach of offering Unconditional Positive Regard. Additionally, Alice Miller’s coined term, “Enlightened Witness” gives language to the work of our clinicians who listen compassionately while validating survivors’ painful experiences, a role we consider to be a true honor. Radiant Futures Clinicians also provide psychoeducation to parents/caregivers and promote positive relationship growth between children and their parents/caregivers to support families in their healing process.