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When and where do I go for help?

The care described on this page is valid for the Dutch situation.  Contact us, moms@reiniervanarkel.nl,  if you have information that will help us map this out for other countries?


When you get pregnant as a result of sexual abuse, a lot happens at the same time. You may have all sorts of complicated feelings such as anger, disgust and shame, or you may feel guilty. You are also faced with a difficult decision about your unborn child. Do you want to keep it or not? Sometimes you have no choice, because terminating a pregnancy is not possible for cultural or religious reasons. You may also have discovered the pregnancy too late, which means that the period within which you can terminate the pregnancy has lapsed.


"For a long time I did not talk to my son David and I kept my distance from him. I was experiencing too much stress and too many memories when I looked at him. I would go in the other room and he would just sit in a corner. He cried a lot, didn't sleep well, and would scream for ages at times. I didn't know how to comfort him or how to calm him down. I was ashamed of this."

"In quiet moments, I realised he was just a little child. I wasn't there for my child. If I tried to reach out to him, he'd run away. He wouldn't let me touch him. That's when I knew I needed help, but no one helped me, and I didn't know where to look for help."

It's very good to discuss difficult decisions like this with someone you trust. If there are no people whom you trust enough, consult with your GP. Your GP can refer you to a suitable organisation.


If you want to keep the child, questions and doubts may still persist. Can I be a mother now? Can I see my baby as separate from the abuse, or will I be reminded of it all the time? Will I be able to love the child and will I manage to give this child what it needs so that it can grow and develop?

Most women in this situation think a lot about these things. It is good to discuss these questions. You can do this with a good friend, someone who has been through a similar experience or with someone from an organisation where you can go for help.

There are other useful questions such as: what things do I need and how do I get them, can I still finish my education? On this page you will find more information.

Problems after sexual violence

On the page about sexual trauma you can read about physical and emotional complaints often occurring after experiencing forced sexual contact. In the event of physical complaints, it is good to seek help as soon as possible through your GP.


If any emotional complaints last longer than a month, we recommend seeking help for this. These complaints will not pass if you do not work on them! Maybe you'd rather not talk about such a traumatic experience, and you might feel ashamed. We recommend talking about it anyway. It might

be a relief to tell someone what you've been through. Remember that healthcare providers, such as doctors or therapists, must observe their professional confidentiality. This means that whatever you tell them in confidence, they can't tell anyone, unless this puts you or your child in danger. As a victim of a sexual trauma, you can get emotional support from various organisations. People who work at these organisations will support you in processing your trauma and finding an answer to your questions. This will help you feel better. And that in turn helps your child.

Where can you get emotional help?

Where can you go for gynaecological problems?

Sexual assault can leave you with all sorts of problems. These can include pain, a wound in your vagina, urinary problems and bleeding. Some experts in the field of sexual violence and gynaecology are listed in the table below. For a complete overview, please visit http://www.beschadigdlichaam.nl/

Asking for help, parent – child relationship

Above, we mentioned a number of complaints that constitute a good reason to ask for help. This can help you and your child. If you're doing better, you'll be able to take better care of your child. It is important for the development of your child that you are there for your child with a lot of love.

Sometimes your relationship with your child is difficult. For example, if you feel that your child is challenging you on purpose, or if you don't feel positive feelings towards your child. It's not uncommon if you don't always love your child, or if you feel you'd like to be without your child for a while. Other mothers feel this too at times. This happens especially when you're very tired. If this is a lasting feeling, it means that building a relationship with your child is not just going to happen. You can ask for help with this. It shows that you want to be a good mother, you will not be rejected for it.

There are other organisations where you can go for specialist help. You need a referral for this from your GP. Discuss with your GP which organisations could help you. Three examples of this are the Psychotraumacentrum Zuid Nederland, Stichting Arq-Centrum 45 and De Evenaar.

Psychotraumacentrum Zuid Nederland, Reinier van Arkel
Psychotraumacentrum Zuid Nederland helps mothers who have experienced sexual violence and have subsequently become pregnant. They are experiencing problems as a result of this traumatic event, and are a mother at the same time. The psychologists who work here know how best to help you and your child. They first focus on you and your past and will do everything they can to help your child. Visit the website for more information and contact:

Go to the Psychotraumacentrum Zuid Nederland 

Stichting Arq-Centrum 45
The Stichting Arq foundation cares for people with psychological trauma and their children. Mothers who have experienced sexual assault can get treatment here. They are experiencing problems as a result of this traumatic event, and are a mother at the same time. They provide parent-child treatments to improve the relationship.

Go to Centrum 45 

De Evenaar, GGZ Drenthe
De Evenaar helps people from different cultural backgrounds. Such as migrants and migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers. People of all ages, including children, can turn to de Evenaar.

Go to de Evenaar