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Providing adequate support

This website provides tools for providing adequate support to mothers with a child born of sexual violence. Topics that will be discussed include issues, identification, discussion, treatment, specific themes and a culturally sensitive approach. In addition, there are special sections for mothers and children on this website. Reading these sections will help you put yourself in the shoes of these mothers and provide an individual approach in your contact with them. It can also help you find the right words when explaining specific themes.


"At one point I noticed that I felt so involved with these mothers that I started to work harder and harder to create a ray of light in the amount of shit that they experience. It began to weigh heavier and heavier on me how much these mothers have on their plates. I felt powerless, so I started working even harder. Until a colleague told me that I should not work on these types of cases alone, but that I should work together to share responsibility. That mother is not solely responsible for how she and her child are doing, but neither am I. I am now trying to activate people around them so that a community develops around the mother and me."

If you want to know more about how to deal with the issues of mothers with a child born of sexual violence, there are the following options:


You can take a training course that focuses on attachment problems, for example Infant Mental Health (IMH specialist or consultant). The NJI provides an overview of treatments that can be applied to problems with attachment:Click here for an overview of NJI. You can take a training course in this subject. Various organisations offer these training courses. At present, as far as we know, there are no specific training courses for practitioners working with children born of sexual violence.


Working with trauma-related problems can lead to overload, overinvolvement, preoccupation with the problem or excessive detachment. If your work takes too much out of you emotionally, or if problems occur in the working relationship due to excessive detachment, supervision is required. Supervision opens up opportunities to pause and reflect on yourself, your client and the treatment process in a safe environment. The better you understand your own reactions, feelings and beliefs, the better you will be able to help mothers and children. Research shows that supervision is a very powerful coping strategy for first responders (1).

Peer review

Research has shown that discussing cases with colleagues works as a basic strategy for dealing with upsetting issues (2). Connecting with other professionals, sharing your concerns, and encouraging each other to provide better support creates the opportunity to help each other. A peer review group with colleagues can help to reflect, learn and deal with certain issues. Therefore, check whether there is a peer review group within your own organisation. Reinier van Arkel's Psychotraumacentrum Zuid Nederland organises peer review groups, especially for professionals who (currently) work with mothers with a child born of sexual violence. To register, email moms@reiniervanarkel.nl. When we have received sufficient applications, we will get in touch. The meetings take place online.


The problem of mothers with a child born of sexual violence often affects the professional personally. Research shows that therapists who work with these mothers and children often stress the importance of professional self-care (3). Listening to traumatic stories can lead to feelings of stress (2). Even after years of experience, it is difficult not to get involved and get sucked in, as it were. It will be tricky to reflect on the process while this is necessary to continue to provide good care. The fact that this is regarded as a great risk in working with this target group says something about the complexity of the problem and the enthusiasm that the (health)care professional needs to work with these mothers and their children.

Research among (health)care professionals has shown that it is important for professionals to actively practise self-care, in order to maintain a good balance between your work life/private life and to be able to offer the best help to clients (3). Self-care strategies must be personally relevant and focus on different aspects of a person's well-being. Make sure you have sufficient knowledge of the problem, that you have sufficient support in working with this problem, that you have sufficient time for reflection and that you continue to focus on personal well-being, such as sports and relaxation (4).


Providing adequate help to mothers with a child born of sexual violence is complex. It is possible to consult organisations with professionals who have experience in providing support for this specific target group. By requesting consultation, on the one hand, care for the relevant client is improved, and on the other hand, the knowledge of the person requesting consultation is increased, and they will be better equipped to deal with similar problems in the future (5).

The following institutions have experience with mothers with a child born of sexual violence as well as with transcultural psychiatry:

Psychotraumacentrum Zuid-Nederland
Within the Psychotraumacentrum Zuid-Nederland, therapists specialise in treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder. The line of research on mothers with a child born of sexual violence is also part of the Psychotraumacentrum. For information and contact details, visit: https://www.reiniervanarkel.nl/ptczn

Stichting Arq-Centrum 45
Stichting Arq provides care to patients with problems related to psychological trauma and their children through screening, diagnostics and treatment. Mothers who have experienced sexual violence can receive treatment here, both individually and together with their child.

De Evenaar, GGZ Drenthe
De Evenaar helps people of foreign origin, such as (labour) migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. People of all ages, including children, can visit de Evenaar.

Fier helps victims of violence by providing advice, counselling, shelter and treatment. Fier combines specialised care with sharing knowledge. For example, they offer the Evi care programme for young mothers who are dealing with violence in relationships of dependency.


If you have identified that a mother has/is having a child as a result of sexual violence and this requires care, make an estimate of what care you can provide within your organisation, taking into account de bouwstenen voor interventies and specifieke thema’s in de behandeling. And take into account the potential of yourself, your team and your organisation to learn about the target group. If referral is required, preferably do so with a smooth transition. A smooth transition, in which you accompany the mother to a meeting with the intended (health)care professional, can provide the mother with the right support in taking the next step. If support is available in the region, this is desirable. If specialist support is not available, it is possible to refer to the institutions under consultation, as they work on an interregional level.


Let's work together to organise the care of these mothers and their children as close to home and as well as possible in order to create an environment that offers both mother and child optimal opportunities to improve their relationship and their future.


“I am a psychotherapist and clinical psychologist. Some of my clients have experienced sexual violence and have become pregnant as a result. Asking about sexual assault is a matter of simply doing it. It is difficult to ask questions about painful topics like this, but it is necessary to provide adequate support for the mother and child. It is also important to be honest about any obstacles you may have when asking about sexual violence, both to yourself and to colleagues. Look for a way to deal with these obstacles, for example by talking to colleagues or by taking a training course. The secrecy surrounding sexual abuse must be broken

and this requires professionals to be aware of the impact of sexual violence on both the mother and the child."