We all have a tool-box we use when we work, that we have acquired through our work. You as a helper are the most important tool. Through our training we work on more tools and skills, and practice them so that they are available in situations we need them.

16.12 2021

What, how and why?

Helpers are always looking for sound tools and information that assist them practically on how to help exposed children. In this manual, we try to provide exactly that.

But in order to give good help, more knowledge is needed. We need to understand what is happening in the brain, in the body, in the thoughts, emotions and behaviour of a child who has been sexually abused. We also need to understand why children react in certain ways when they experience trauma and why we believe the tools we recommend are effective. Some reactions are very common, but at the same time every child and every child’s experiences are unique, influenced by the context, pre-trauma experiences, the individual’s personality and different resilience factors. A helper cannot therefore apply tools blindly but must adjust them to meet the needs and circumstances of each individual child. Helpers can do this by considering the mechanisms that underpin trauma (the ‘what’) and why various tools are able to address them (the ‘why’).

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.