Helping mothers move forward
A workbook to help provide assessment and support to the safe carers of children who have been sexually abused
By Lynda Regan

Offering tried and tested approaches for work with safe carers of children who have been sexually abused - principally but not exclusively mothers - this workbook allows you to adapt and evolve its framework during both the investigative and recovery stages of their individual experiences, including:
  • Setting the scene
  • Understanding the carer's position and creating a supportive environment
  • Providing a framework for the carer to understand sexual abuse
  • Helping the carer to consider these issues in relation to their own situation
  • Addressing the future including consideration of issues around safe care - especially if a family wants to consider reunification

  • Each section has some exercises that should be undertaken in all assessments, regardless of the carer's starting position, as they help to inform their thinking and provide them with useful information and a way of making some sense of what has happened. There are also additional exercises included for carers who are perhaps stuck on particular issues. Workers can choose which exercises are suitable for the carer they are working with. Throughout, the worker is offered direct help and guidance on:
  • Helping carers to work through the stages of a reaction to traumatic news, and avoid judging them
  • Providing therapeutic support to help them make some sense of the turmoil they experience and learn how to 'move forward'
  • Showing a belief in the potential of the carer's capacity to grasp the issues, to move through the stages of shock and ultimately, to prioritise the child's needs
  • Helping carers reach the position of support for their child that is crucial to their recovery process
  • Above all, engaging sensitively with the carer from the outset, in ways that reduce the risk of alienation and potential for change
  • But also, evidencing conclusions reached when the work with the carer is unsuccessful
  • Planning for relapse and involving the wider family and community networks, who are most likely both to spot the early signs of lapse, and provide the most day-to-day support
  • Giving carers time to come to terms with what has happened and their future intentions for themselves and the child in their care before any assessment is made on 'ability to protect'
  • Unlocking access to reliable sources of additional information, often by reference to Martin Calder's Mothers of Sexually Abused Children (RHP 2001) as the primary source.

    A4 wiro. 160 pages. 978-1-903855-87-4. Published 2006. £29.95.


    Lynda Regan
    has been a social worker on an area team in Salford and a therapeutic social worker at Salford Cornerstone Project, a specialist service for child victims of sexual abuse, where she is now Children's Service Manager. She is a co-author of Looking Glass: a positive communication workbook (RHP 2002).


    Setting the scene
    Understanding impacts
    The impact of sharing personal information
    Identifying a framework for the assessment
    A working agreement
    Techniques to promote engagement and participation: understanding the woman's standpoint and creating a supportive environment
    Naming our fears
    Acknowledging feelings
    Understanding the function of denial in relation to mothers
    Support networks (eco map)
    Family tree (genograms)
    Encouraging assertiveness
    Overcoming resistance
    Assessment framework
    Acknowledging the woman's strengths
    Managing anxiety and stress
    Taking care of herself
    What happened and when?
    Defining the issues: providing a framework for the woman top understand about sexual abuse
    Stereotypes 'Headline News'
    What knowledge the woman already has
    What sexual abuse means
    Definition of sexual abuse
    Caring for children - what things might be safe/unsafe
    Understanding perpetrators
    Understanding the process of sexual abuse
    Understanding grooming strategies
    Impacts on children 1
    Impacts on children2
    What might prevent a non-abusing carer from telling? Why it is hard for children to tell
    Making it personal: helping the woman to consider these issues in relation to her own situation
    Pathway to disclosure
    Finding ways to communicate
    Impacts on siblings
    Revisiting support networks
    Making links
    Empathy with the child
    Body safety skills for children
    Measuring change
    The future
    Family reunification
    Desirable preconditions for family reunification
    Understanding the adult relationship
    Identifying risks
    Changes in family behaviours
    References and further reading


    "This workbook is to be welcomed, its A4 size photo-copiable worksheets and exercises make it a very good resource for the busy practitioner. A copy should be made available to every children and families social work team." Community Care.