Finding Help For Sexually Abused Teens
The America Psychological Association defines sexual abuse as “unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.” A teenager that has endured sexual abuse (e.g., forcing someone to have sex, forcing someone to perform sexual acts, refusing to use condoms, engaging in sexual acts with someone who is unconscious, rape, unwanted kissing, unwanted touching, and unwanted rough or violent sex, etc.) is pressured into participating in sexual acts or behaviors that he or she does not want to take part in. There is a common misconception that simply because a teenager did not explicitly resist sexual advances it implies that he or she consented to them or that it is not considered abuse, which is untrue. Sexual abuse is incredibly traumatic and can lead a young person to develop severe physiological effects.
To be able to provide a teenager with proper support and ample help, it is useful to be aware of some of the common warning signs associated with sexual abuse. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape provides a list of warning signs, some of which include but are not limited to the following examples:
- Weight fluctuation
- Genital infections
- Unhealthy eating patterns
- Self-harming behaviors
- Suicidal ideation
It is important to note that the warnings signs that a young person who is being sexually abused may exhibit will differ from teen to teen.
How To Help
There are many ways to help a sexually abused teen. It is imperative to understand your own limitations as a parent and recognize that your teen may be dealing with certain issues that extend beyond your abilities. Mental health support can be incredibly effective for a young person who has experienced sexual abuse. Locating a therapist, however, can seem like an overwhelming task. Although most parents will want to secure a therapist for their teenager as quickly as possible it is important be patient, and ensure the clinician is the right fit. An excellent place to start your search is to consult your pediatrician as they should be able to point you in the right direction and may even offer recommendations from within their professional network. Bear in mind that there is a plethora of highly qualified professionals that have extensive experience and expert knowledge in treating teenagers that have endured sexual abuse.
For Information and Support
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.