Just for Teens (and pre-teens)

Anyone under age 18 who wants help dealing with unwanted or confusing sexual activity of any kind, including with a sibling, needs to know this: If you tell the details to most adults, there is a chance they will be required to report it under child abuse reporting laws. The information below explains how to get help and answers, in ways that will let you make as many of your own choices as possible. 

If you are in immediate danger of physical or sexual violence, call 911 or text BRAVE to 741741.

Even people who know that they experienced sexual activity that was wrong, and unwanted, and that hurt them deeply still sometimes feel confused. They still may feel ashamed, guilty, or dirty. It is important to know that any sexual activity you did not want or did not understand was not your fault. If you want to text or talk with someone about this, the National Sexual Assault and Abuse Line at RAINN.org is a safe place. If you’re still really not sure, if what happened was OK, or whether any of it was your fault, What's OK? is another safe place to start exploring these questions. 

 

Something Happened to Me (Ages 12-18) | RAINN 

Dear WhatsOK Helpline: I was abused and now I'm afraid I'm abusing kids in my family

You can contact any of the helplines listed at the top of the page, and they will not know who you are or where you are, and they will not report anything unless you decide you want them to and you give them your information. They can give you advice on how you can get the help you need in real life without giving them information that would force them to "out" you. These helplines can also help you find support if you decide you do want to tell your parents or the police.

 

Young people who have experienced unwanted or confusing sexual activity can have a lot on their mind as they grow up and become teenagers. Here are just a few possibilities.

  • They might be disturbed by thoughts about a sibling that keep popping into their minds. They may wonder–are these memories, or dreams, or fantasies, or what?

  • They might start to realize that not all siblings do what their sibling did to them, and that other people think there’s something wrong with it.

  • They might hear people speaking out about sexual assault, and realize their stories sound familiar, or they react strongly in their own body and feelings.

  • In health class, the teacher might talk about consent or what parts of their bodies are private. They connect the dots and their stomach starts to churn, they start to feel dizzy, they feel like sinking into the floor.

  • Their date touches or kisses them–and they are surprised to find that their body freezes or they become terrified and want to run away.

  • They might see sexual images online that bother them–but they can’t stop watching them.

  • They may wonder, if I can’t stand the thought of sexual contact with anyone, am I asexual?

  • Other teens may remember things they did to a sibling and realize they shouldn’t have done it. They might worry, Am I a pedophile? Am I a monster?  

 

Teens may struggle with these thoughts or feelings even if  

  • it was something that happened just once or many times 

  • it stopped long ago or is still happening 

  • their sibling still lives in the same home or not

  • they still hang out with their sibling, or never want to see them again

  • they were forced into it, felt like a willing participant, or aren’t even sure whose idea it was in the first place

 

RAINN (24/7)

What's OK? (M-F daytime)

Crisis Text Line (Text HOME to 741741 or use WhatsApp) 

 

These helplines can help you sort out difficult questions like: 

  • If I participated or initiated sometimes, will I be charged with a crime?

  • Can I make a police report without my parents finding out?  

  • What if something happened when we were drunk? Will I get charged for that? 

  • I want to tell but what if that just makes the abuse worse? 

  • I’m a boy and my brother assaulted me. Will they think I’m gay? I don’t even know yet.

  • I’m afraid I will be put in foster care or that our family will be split apart. I want this to stop, but I don’t want the system messing in our business.

  • What if no one believes me? 

What other options do I have?

  • You can talk to adults you know and trust but use vague terms and leave out details. You can talk about how you are feeling now (anxious, triggered, depressed, suicidal) without talking about why you think you feel this way. You can say you're asking for advice "for a friend." Remember: they can’t tell what they don’t know.  

  • You can call your local sexual assault crisis center and ask to talk to an advocate. This is a person who can support you through the process of deciding, disclosing, and reporting.

  • If you're ready, you can report what has happened to a parent, trusted adult, doctor or therapist, or directly to law enforcement.

  • If you want authorities to intervene but you are afraid to let others know that you told, you can make an anonymous report to your state's child abuse hotline.

Additional Resources for Teens