There are no hard and fast rules that dictate how to respond when a child comes to you and tells you they are being abused. Common sense dictates that care must be taken to protect the child and honor the courage it takes to disclose. The following are a few guidelines that may help:
Find a private place to talk.
Listen. Allow the child to tell their story in their own way.
Use the child's own words if you need to clarify something.
Let the child know you are available if they want to speak to you again.
Push the child to tell you more than they are ready to share.
Ask leading questions (if you have to ask any at all).
Make the child repeat what they told you to others.
Be judgmental of the child, perpetrator, or other family members.
Make promises you cannot keep.
If you are a mandated reporter, remember you must file a 51A Report with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). You may contact law enforcement in addition to DCF. DCF and the police can assist with any safety planning.