Being a teen is hard. Parents, teachers, adults don’t know what it was like being a teenager today. Social media, dating, pressure, and school are completely different now. Sometimes, they still treat teens like they’re little kids, and they have no idea what it is teens see, hear and do today. That doesn’t mean you don’t have questions and sometimes don’t know if your parents can handle the conversation.
That’s why this section is made for teens, with input from teens and Children’s Cove. We know that these kinds of conversations are hard so we wanted to give you some info to try to make it easier to talk to your parents or an adult you trust about this stuff.
I have some questions…
What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is when someone makes you do something sexual that you either don’t want to do, they force you to do, or they are someone who shouldn’t have a sexual relationship with you (an adult, a teacher, a family member, a faith leader, etc.) This could be kissing, touching each other’s bodies, sexting, sending nude selfies, or actual sex.
Why should I care about sexual abuse?
Even if you’re someone who isn’t being abused, you probably know someone who has been, still is, or may in the future. 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will be abused in some way before they graduate high school. Learning about what abuse is, what the signs may be, and what to do may allow you get help for a friend someday.
Is it sex or sexual abuse?
When dating, or seeing each other, people like to show affection and make each other feel good in different ways. What’s important though is that both people agree to what happens, what limits are, and what do’s &don’ts are. If there is a time when you don’t like what happened, told someone to stop, said no, fought back, and the other person kept going, it’s sexual abuse. If the other person was an adult, a family member, someone who has responsibility to keep you safe, it is sexual abuse.
I’m really embarrassed about what happened.
You’re not alone. When things happen that we don’t want to happen, to our bodies or in our lives it’s scary and embarrassing to talk about. It can be embarrassing especially if it is a family member, someone much older, someone who’s the same gender. You not want to admit it ever happened. However, you didn’t do anything wrong. No matter what happened, no matter what you did, if someone took advantage of you: you have nothing to be ashamed about, they do.
They said they would hurt me or my family if I told.
People who take advantage of others often use threats to keep themselves out of trouble. Telling someone about what has happened, and that they threatened you is the best way to handle it. What they’ve done is a crime and NOT ok.
This is confusing…
I trusted this person and I am really confused.
When someone we trust and care about has done something which hurts you makes you feel embarrassed or ashamed, it’s hard to know what to do. Sometimes the biggest mistakes we make are the ones that we repeat. If someone does something that makes you feel ashamed, upset or anything other than ok, it doesn’t matter who they are: you should tell an adult who will help.
Someone told me what we did was a secret.
There are two types of ways to hide things from others: Surprises and Secrets. Surprises usually are fun, exciting and done to make someone happy. Secrets usually aren’t and they may make you lie to someone you care about. If someone tells you not to talk about something or to keep a secret and it makes you feel uncomfortable, you should talk to an adult who will help.
It was wrong, but it felt good.
As you get older your body changes. The way things feel changes and sometimes sensations feel good, even when in our head we know something is not ok. It doesn’t matter how it felt, or what you did in the moment. If someone did something they shouldn’t have, it doesn’t matter how it felt, you should tell an adult who will help.
My BF/GF made me do something that made me uncomfortable.
Someone who you care about (and who should care about you) never has the right to make you do anything you do don’t want to or make you feel uncomfortable. If they think it is ok to make you do something you don’t want to do, or threatens you with breaking up, blackmailing you, or withholding anything from you, they may look at your relationship differently than you do and it may not be a good fit.
Someone online wants to meet with me.
Do you know this person? Actually know them know them? If not, don’t do it! There are thousands of kids and teens who go missing, are hurt, assaulted and more each year from meeting strangers online. Even individuals who have profiles and Snapchats that look like other kids and teens, a lot of them are adults pretending to be teens. If you don’t know them, don’t friend them or share with them.
Why does everyone make a big deal about sexting?
A lot of it has to do with the fact that parents and adults just don’t want teens to do it. Sometimes while sexting, teens send nude selfies. As soon as that happens, teens can get into a lot of messy situations. A lot of times, they don’t just stay with one person. That image can be shared in class, school, or even farther than that. There are adults who pretend to be teens who save those images and spread them online, or sell them to predators. Nude selfies can ruin someone’s reputation. It’s also illegal. Anytime someone under 18 takes a nude selfie it is considered “the manufacturing and dissemination of child pornography.”
How can I get help?
It happened a while ago, should I still tell?
Absolutely, no matter what happened and when, you can tell an adult who will help and Children’s Cove can help you find the way to talk about what happened.
Who should I tell?
Everybody has different backgrounds, friends, loved ones and people in their lives. If something has happened and you want to get help, you need to tell an adult who will help. Whether it is a parent, another family member, a teacher, a police officer, a coach, etc. it needs to be someone who will listen and support you. If you tell an adult and they don’t believe you or they won’t help, find another one who will. You can always contact us at Children’s Cove to help as well.
Am I in trouble if I go to Children’s Cove?
No! If you come to Children’s Cove you are never in any trouble. We are a place to help kids and teens who have had something bad happen to them move forward with their lives. No matter what has happened, it doesn’t define you and doesn’t determine your future.
What will happen after I tell?
Depending on who you tell, you may have to meet with a police officer to briefly talk about what happened. After a quick meeting with them, someone from Children’s Cove will talk with your parent or someone who takes care of you to set up a time to come to our center. When you come here you will meet with one of our staff where you can ask any questions or share any concerns you have. After that, you will talk to one person who is specifically trained to talk about hard stuff like this, so you only have to talk about it one time. We then make a plan together to make sure that your body is ok, that you can have supports and services you like and want, and move forward towards healing and recovery.