If you are a teenager and are concerned you may have experienced sexual abuse, know that you are not alone. Visiting this website is the first step to getting help.
Get more information below or call 911 now for immediate help.
What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is any interaction between you and an adult or another teen in which you are used for sexual stimulation by a perpetrator or an observer. Sexual abuse includes touching private parts but can also include non-touching behaviors (someone trying to look at your naked body or someone exposing you to pornography).
Who does sexual abuse happen to?
Anyone. Sexual abuse happens to teens of all ages, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. It affects girls and boys in all kinds of neighborhoods and communities.
How do you know if sexual abuse has happened to you?
As a teen you have the right to decide what sexual activity — if any — is right for you. Agreeing to sexual activity with someone (saying “yes” or giving “consent”) means that you have freely decided to engage in that activity.
Sexual abuse often happens when you:
- Feel pressured emotionally or physically
- Don’t feel you have a choice in the situation, so you go along with it
- Don’t know how to get out of the situation (“coercion”) because you’re scared or anxious
How do I know if I’ve experienced sexual abuse?
Any sexual contact that you do not consent to is sexual abuse. You have the right to say “no” if you do not want to do something sexual. Sexual abuse can include any contact with private body parts (breasts, genitals, buttocks) that you don’t want, don’t agree to, or are forced into doing.
Can I be sexually assaulted by someone I’ve had a consensual sexual experience with before?
Yes. It doesn’t matter if you just met or are in a long-term relationship. You don’t have to have a reason to say “no.” If someone tries to convince you to do something sexual you don’t want to do, even if you have done it with that person before, you have the right to say “no.”
Why does teen sexual assault happen?
People who perpetrate sexual assault may have a variety of problems, but the core cause is often a misuse of power and control. This can include physical force or threatening, intimidating, manipulating, stalking, or isolating you from friends or other supports.
How common is sexual abuse?
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will experience sexual abuse by age 18. Most teens are sexually abused by someone they know and trust. Most adults who sexually abuse children are men (95%), but some women also sexually abuse children.
What about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
1 in 2 sexually active young people will get an STD before the age of 25. Most will not know it. Click here to learn more.
Can other people tell I’ve been sexually abused?
Typically there are no outward signs of sexual abuse.
What if I’m LGBTQ?
Sexual assault occurs because an abuser is misusing their power and control, not because of you or your sexual orientation.
However, LGBTQ youth are at higher risk for dating violence than heterosexual youth:
- 23% percent of LGBTQ youth reported sexual dating violence, compared to
- 12% of heterosexual youth.
If you are in high school and are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, visit the Oasis Center’s Just Us website to find a liberating space where you can be authentic and celebrate the fluidity of identity.
What does technology have to do with sexual abuse?
Cellphones and social media can open you up to sexual assault. Online predators pretending to be someone they are not will try to trick you into meeting them in person. Sometimes perpetrators will post videos of the sexual assault. In a dating relationship, a romantic partner’s constant texting can be a way to monitor and control your actions. They may also threaten to share embarrassing or hurtful sexual pictures or information. None of this behavior is OK, and it is not your fault.
Why do I feel guilty, anxious or scared?
Being sexually assaulted — especially by someone you trusted — can bring up complicated emotions including guilt, self-doubt, fear and shame. But sexual abuse is never your fault. Working through these feelings is part of the healing process and will help you move forward with your life.
- It’s not your fault, no matter how you acted or what you wore.
- All of your feelings are normal. They will not last forever.
- The police are more concerned with your safety than getting you in trouble.
- Many teens have gone through this before. You are not alone.
What about sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and infections (STI)?
If you have been exposed to an STD or STI, testing is the first step to treating it. Many STDs are curable, but either way, you need to know if you’ve been exposed.
What should I do if I’m sexually assaulted?
1. Call 911.
Do not worry about getting into trouble if you were drinking or taking drugs. The police are concerned first with your health and safety.
2. Go to the hospital.
Call someone you trust — an adult or friend — and ask them to take you to the hospital. Do not shower, eat or drink anything, brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, or change your clothes. The medical team needs to find out if you are hurt and collect evidence from your clothing and your body during the medical exam. Girls may also receive emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy.
3. See a counselor.
You will understandably find it difficult to cope with what has happened. A counselor can help you work through your feelings and take steps toward healing. With help, you will get through this and you can move forward. Sexual abuse happens but it does not define you. Find a counselor here.
Information above has been adapted from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s website. For more information, visit their site.