First things first: it’s not your fault. You are not to blame, no matter who has abused you or what you’ve been told. You need to get help, whether your abuse happened in the past or is happening now. You have already taken the first step by reading this page.
Looking for something specific? Go straight there.
Sexual abuse is one of the worst things that can happen to you. It’s frightening and confusing. You might feel all alone, and that no one could possibly understand what you’re going through. Here are some other things you might be experiencing right now:
Sadness or depression
Inability to focus, especially at school
Wanting to self-injure
Using drugs and/or alcohol to escape
All of these feelings are normal. You might be feeling other things, and those feelings are okay too.
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People who sexually abuse others always have an excuse for their behaviour. You might have been blamed for the abuse, but it is never your fault. Here are some things you might have heard:
“It’s our secret”
“I can’t control myself”
“You wanted this to happen”
“You’ll be in trouble if you tell”
You need help to get over what has happened to you. The best way to do this is to break the silence. Telling someone that you’ve been sexually abused might seem impossible. But it’s not. Try to remember that talking about your abuse will help make it stop. And it has to stop.
Who do I tell?
Talking to a friend is a good start. Eventually, you have to tell someone else you trust. Ideally, that will be an adult who you think can help you. For example, you might choose to tell a parent, teacher, coach, principal, guidance counsellor, or someone else. A counsellor can help you decide who to tell, and even work with you on what you can say when you’re ready to talk. Keep in mind that anyone who cares about you wants you to be safe.
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What do I say?
You will find the right words when the time comes, but here is an example of how you might start the conversation:
Go to the person you’ve chosen when there is no one else around. Say, “I need to talk to you,” or “There’s something I need to talk to you about.”
Go someplace quiet and take a deep breath. Say, “Something has happened to me that’s hard to talk about.”
When you’re ready, explain what’s happening. Say, “I was sexually abused. I need help.”
If you know how you want the person to help you, say, “I want you to…”
The person you tell will probably take things from there. It isn’t easy to talk about what happened to you, but once you’ve started talking, you’ve taken a big step toward helping yourself.
Remember: If you are not ready to talk to someone, think about writing a letter.
What happens next?
It takes a lot of courage to talk about your abuse. The person you tell might be surprised or upset to hear what’s happened to you. Remember, it’s not your fault that you were sexually abused, and you are not responsible for how someone reacts to your abuse. The person you tell should help you contact the right people to make the abuse stop. If the person you tell doesn’t help you in the way you need, tell someone else. Don’t give up.
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If the abuse is still happening and you’re not ready to talk about it, it’s very important to protect yourself. Here are some things you can do:
Avoid being alone with the abuser
Make excuses. It’s okay to lie. Some examples you could use are:
“I promised my friend I would help her with our Geography assignment.”
“I have soccer/baseball practise.”
“I am going to my job/babysitting after school.”
Plan where you can go where your abuser won’t find you
Phone a friend and make plans together
Take a bus or taxi to get away. Keep a bus ticket or someplace safe, like in your shoe.
If you’re not sure how to stay safe from your abuser, call to have an anonymous conversation with a counsellor at Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868. We can help you come up with a plan.
It’s traumatic when someone you trust hurts you. Many people who are sexually abused by family members feel confused, because they still love the person who abused them. Sexual abuse is always wrong, even if your abuser is in your family. It’s very important that you talk to someone you trust, or call a counsellor at Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868. Remember, we won’t get involved unless you want us to.
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Getting through each day
You might feel like you will never be free from the abuse, but you will. Healing takes time, but you will get there. Be patient with yourself and take it day by day. Never lose hope.
What are you feeling today? How do you want to feel tomorrow? Do you have something to look forward to?
Be sure that you walk in a safe area, during the day. Go with a friend if possible. Take deep breaths.
What do your feelings look like?
Having fun with your friends will remind you how much they care about you.
You might start to see a counsellor who can help you work through your feelings. You can also talk to a counsellor at Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868.
Last reviewed: September 2012 by the Kids Help Phone Counselling Team
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