About manual

This manual is written for helpers and caregivers who work with vulnerable children and their families in war, conflict, humanitarian crises and particularly in low resource communities. Its purpose is to assist helpers and caregivers who meet children exposed to sexual abuse. It is designed primarily for use in training workshops but can also be read individually.

Sexual violence against Children in war, conflict, humanitarian crisis and low resource communities

Introduction to “Sexual violence against Children in war, conflict, humanitarian crisis and low resource communities” manual by Helen Christie clinical psychologist, special adviser and former director at RBUP East and South – Regional Center for Children and Young People’s Mental Health.

This is a short introduction in ukrainian language to the manual that teaches how to work with children who have been sexually abused.

It is designed for helpers and caregivers. Its guidelines set out how to provide culturally sensitive psychosocial support to children who have experienced sexual abuse in war, conflict, humanitarian crises, and resource-limited communities.

Представляємо короткий огляд на посібник , який вчить, як працювати з дітьми, які зазнали сексуального насильства.Його розроблено для помічників і піклувальників. У ньому містяться рекомендаціями щодо того, як надавати психосоціальну підтримку з урахуванням культурних особливостей дітей, які зазнали сексуального насильства під час війни, конфлікту, гуманітарної кризи та у спільнотах з обмеженими ресурсами.

Who is this manual for? What you will learn?

It addresses helpers and caregivers who meet children in their daily lives and who can assist children through play, teaching and socialising. Though they have different roles, the work of helpers and caregivers has much in common. This is not a therapy manual. It contains exercises which helpers can use with good therapeutic effect. These exercises can be used in training workshops with other helpers or individually with a child.

Sexual abuse occurs all over the world but even more often during wars, conflict, humanitarian crises and in low resource communities, which are generally characterised by poor enforcement of the rule of law, the breakdown of social and family structures, and social discrimination. This manual has been developed for use in situations where helpers, caregivers and humanitarian workers have limited or no access to specialised health services. We hope it will also be useful to those who work with sexual abuse in wealthier countries and countries that are stable.

The manual is therefore written primarily for helpers and caregivers, not only for psychologists and psychiatrists. What do we mean by ‘helpers’? Helpers work in a variety of professional capacities. Some have caring for abused children as their primary function, others may meet them less often. We refer to employees in public or non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as social workers, nurses, schoolteachers, and volunteers, who in the course of their work come across and assist children who have been exposed to sexual violence, need psychosocial help and support, or should be referred to specialised primary and secondary health services. Caregivers or carers include parents, relatives or others who care for or support children in everyday life, as well as professional caregivers who work in institutions and foster homes. We use the term helper for both groups, except where the role of a caregiver is explicitly mentioned.

Nurturing care

Because different types of maltreatment often occur together and affect many areas of children’s health and development, we have used the concept of ‘nurturing care’ to assess children’s needs and rights. Nurturing care occurs in a relatively stable environment that is sensitive to the child’s health and nutritional needs; that protects the child from threats; and that includes responsive and emotionally supportive interactions as well as opportunities to play and explore. The domains of nurturing care include health, nutrition, security and safety, early learning, and responsive caregiving. A child that is mistreated may be developmentally affected in all the above domains and all should be considered when support is provided. It is also evident that a child’s needs evolve with age, maturity and functional capacity. This too must be considered.


In addition to knowing the child’s social context, therefore, helpers and carers must understand child development. The nurturing care framework assists helpers and caregivers to position the child in relation to several domains, assess risks and protective factors, and identify entry points and resources.

For that purpose, chapter 3 of our manual, “What do you need to know when you are working with child sexual abuse” provides information about trauma reactions and how trauma and sexual abuse affect the brain, development and attachment. We also discuss the way children think, their survival strategies, and their resilience.