Sexual Abuse

In many families, parents and children are very affectionate and show love for each other by hugging, kissing and touching in nice, gentle ways. Maybe your relatives and friends of your family hug and kiss you when you see them.


However, a relative, or a family friend may be touching you in ways that make you feel really uncomfortable, ashamed and embarrassed, maybe even guilty. If someone is touching you in ways that make you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, it could mean they’re kissing you against your will, or asking you to touch their sex organs, touching your sex organs, squeezing your breasts, or stroking your body. All of these are called sexual contact.

If someone forces you into letting him put his penis into your vagina, or asks you to put your penis into her vagina, that’s called sexual intercourse. Oral and anal sex are two other kinds of sex that can be forced on you. When sexual contact is forced on a child or adolescent by an adult, or on a child by an adolescent, that’s called sexual abuse. It can happen between people of opposite sexes, and also between members of the same sex. If both are consenting adults or consenting adolescents, it’s not sexual abuse. There may be other problems involved, such as diseases like herpes or AIDS, or an unwanted pregnancy, but not sexual abuse.

Many kids who find themselves in situations of sexual abuse are afraid of what will happen if they tell someone about it. If it’s a parent who’s abusing them, they’re afraid that if they try to get help, they’ll be taken away from home. Or that the parent, or whoever, is abusive them will be put in jail. Or, that their parents will get a divorce – and it will be their fault. Sometimes people who sexually abuse kids threaten to hurt them or their families. Or say no one will believe them if they do tell.

Not knowing for sure what will happen if you decide to get help is pretty scary. But there is help available. No one is going to punish you or, in most cases, the person who is doing this to you. Hopefully, you all will get help.

If someone is touching or kissing you in ways that make you feel badly, most likely this behavior will increase. Or, this kind of sexual contact may lead to the person’s wanting sexual intercourse with you. If a parent is involved and you’re worried the family will break up if you tell someone, you may think you’re strong enough to take it. However, when you’re sexually mistreated like this when you’re younger, you may develop some emotional problems when you get older. If you have younger brothers and sisters, what’s happening to you, now, could happen to them later. Remember, too, that the person doing these things has a problem and needs professional help in order to stop. The most important reason for getting help is that no one, absolutely no one, has the right to force you into doing something sexual that makes you feel badly or that could cause you future problems with how you feel about yourself, other people and sex. You don’t have to put up with it!

You may not need to seek outside help if the problem hasn’t gone beyond someone’s touching or kissing you. If you can, very firmly tell the person that you don’t like it and that he or she must stop. If that doesn’t work, talk to your parents or some other adult you trust and who will believe you (like a teacher, school nurse or social worker) about what’s happening. We suggest calling your local County Social Services Department. The people there can give you the information and help you need. Your call will be kept confidential. You don’t even have to tell them your name. They will not trace your call. They will answer any questions you have and will help you with your problems if you ask them to.

If you decide to ask Social Services for help, usually they will talk to the person with whom you’re having a problem, and ask that he or she get professional counseling. If a parent is involved, you may be taken out of the home temporarily until your safety is assured. Most often, the family is kept together unless the parent feels he cannot trust himself to stop what he’s doing or refuses to obtain counseling. If that’s the case, your parents may be asked to have you stay with relatives or friends, temporarily. However, frequent contact with your family is usually arranged. Sometimes visits are “supervised” by a “social worker.” Social Service agencies do not want to punish you or the person who has been abusing you. They want to help you both.

If you want more information or just to talk please call us by dialing 2-1-1 or the teen hotline at 954-567-8336 (TEEN). All calls are confidential. Don’t be afraid to call to get information or to get help. Thank you.

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.