Counselling best way to help kids to come out of rape trauma

 If you think probing a child who is a victim of sexual assault can relieve the agony, you are doing more damage than good. 

Psychiatrists are still grappling with the best methods to help a child overcome trauma at a time when there is a spurt in the number of minor molestation cases in the city. While medical experts are trying the “non-intrusive” means to counsel minor victims of sexual children, parents and day care centres still seem to be in the dark.

“The biggest myth that still exists is that one should keep probing a child to know all facts regarding the sexual assault. Finding facts is not the most important thing. It is also not always essential that the child immediately ventilates the trauma,” said Dr Nimesh Desai, director of Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).The traditional techniques of counselling often fall short of providing relief.

“Instead of verbally expressing, let the child know that she or he has someone to fall back on. There has to be a consistency of contact with the child, which means a couple of persons the child trusts should be around her or him. A simple gesture like holding hands can mean a lot to a child,” said Desai.

In the recent cases, the victims of sexual assault have been as young as three or two-year-old. So parents are advised to behave “like nothing has happened” around these children.

Peaceful environment

“A peaceful environment can help a child in dealing with the trauma. Counselling kids this young is a challenge. We should reassure them nothing would happen and that we would punish whoever has hurt her. Restoring lost trust is important,” said Dr Arti Anand, clinical psychologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Know what’s wrong

According to health experts, it is important to abandon the classical method dealing with trauma. Parents have to be on their toes always to know if there is anything wrong with their children.

Also, coordination with the school teacher or day care centre is necessary to check if there is any change in behaviour of the child. Moreover, parents should not leave their children panic-stricken either. 

Be vigilant

“Teach your toddler which is an inappropriate touch and to tell you immediately if she has faced it. Give simple tips to your kids like yelling if someone tries to hurt her. Parents of a boy child need to be equally vigilant,” said Dr Anand. 

There is a marginal rise of 10 per cent in the number of parents seeking medical counselling for these cases recently, she added.

Symptoms

“The common symptoms of a traumatised child is either being repulsed to touch or over clinging to a parent. Parents should also watch for a loss in appetite, lethargy, avoiding interaction with friends, frequent nightmares and loss of attention in school among their children,” said Dr Kushal Jain, consultant psychiatrist at Vidyasagar Institute for Mental Health, Neuro and Allied Sciences (VIMHANS).

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