An adult site member sent me a message asking me to address the issue of how a child tells a parent that they are being sexually abused. It is always disturbing to hear about an incidence of child abuse and the long term negative effects of this type of abuse can be heard loudly in the voices of the adult survivors.
In an ideal world children would feel comfortable going to their parents with this kind of information (In an ideal world this type of thing would never happen). Unfortunately there are many variables that go into whether or not a child feels safe confiding in a parent. The abuser may in fact be a parent or a step parent and telling the non-offending parent may be difficult because of the fear of not being believed or of destroying the family image. There may be threats by the abuser about the repercussions of "telling" and there may be shame and even guilt around the events. In some cases, there may be realistic concerns about safety if a child brings this terrible crime to light as the abuser may also be a batterer and the child feels as though they have the responsibility to protect everyone from this person.
If at all possible and safe a child needs to find a way to talk to a trusted parent about what they are going through. It is important that they recognize that nothing they did or said (or wore) provoked the behavior - even if this is what they have been told by the abuser. They need to see themselves as the "victim" of a crime and the abuser as a criminal, which can be incredibly difficult when the abuser is a parent or parent figure.
If telling a parent is not an option then there are others that can be helpful in these situations. The child should look for a teacher, school counselor, doctor, relative or family friend to confide in and ask for help. These people can also be instrumental in helping the child to share this information with the non-offending parent.
In the case of the DS member the abuse took place years ago and it sounds as though she is only now seriously considering sharing this information with a parent. It doesn't matter how long ago the offense occurred, or that she has kept this secret for so many years, the truth, in a safe environment, is the best option. I would encourage anyone struggling with this to talk to a therapist and to consider bringing the parent into session to disclose this information. Secrets hold a great deal of power and, while there will be fallout from this disclosure; the information needs to be shared in order for the healing to begin.