This website is meant to be a resource and information center for teens. Our goal is to disseminate information in a fun, interesting and non-offensive fashion. Our hope is that both young men and women will use this website to get answers to some questions regarding sexual violence. This subject is very sensitive. As professionals, a special effort has been made to present the information as honestly as possible.
CVS, formerly called The Rape Crisis Center, was established in 1974 and incorporated in 1977. Our mission is: In partnership with the community, we are dedicated to ending sexual assault and family violence through prevention, crisis services and treatment. For more information about Community Violence Solutions and it’s wide range of programs, please visit the CVS website.
Here are some questions we often get from parents. Please contact us if you have any other questions.
How would I know if my teen was being abused? What are the signs?
Children or teens who have been sexually abused are sometimes too frightened to talk about sexual assault. They may exhibit a variety of physical and behavioral signals. Parents should be aware of these signs.
- Changes in behavior such as withdrawal, fearfulness, crying without provocation.
- Appetite disturbances.
- Recurrent nightmares, disturbed sleep patterns, fear of the dark.
- Regression to more infantile behavior such as bedwetting, thumb sucking, or excessive crying.
- Torn or stained underclothing.
- Vaginal or rectal bleeding, pain, itching, swollen genitals, vaginal discharge, or sexually transmitted diseases.
- Unusual interest in or knowledge of sexual matters, expressing affection in ways inappropriate for a child of that age.
- Fear of a person or an intense dislike at being left somewhere or with someone.
- Other behavioral signals such as aggressive or disruptive behavior, running away, failing in school, or delinquent behavior.
What do I do if my child discloses sexual assault to me?
- Believe your child. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse.
- Convey your support for your teen. A child’s greatest fear is that they are at fault and responsible for the incident. Alleviating this self-blame is of paramount importance.
Commend the teen for telling you about the experience.
- Assure your teen that you will protect him or her.
- Temper your own reaction. Your greatest challenge is not to convey your horror about the abuse. Recognize that your perspective and acceptance are critical signals to your child.
- Find a specialized agency that evaluates sexual abuse victims – a hospital, child advocacy center or welfare agency, community mental health program, or child abuse treatment center. Keep asking until you find a group or an individual with appropriate expertise.
- Call a support agency like Community Violence Solutions or your local rape crisis center to assist with the emotional issues and the legal and medical processes.
Talk with other parents to ascertain if their children exhibit unusual behavior or physical symptoms.
What should I tell my child if they ask me how to deal with sexual harassment?
- Don’t rescue your child. Don’t deny your child a chance to work out problems themselves. Allowing them to solve the problem on their own will build their self-esteem.
- Provide your teen with some possible solutions. The more options they have, the more they feel in control of situations. Teach your teen keywords of protection such as No, Stop and Don’t.
- Encourage your teen to ask his or her coach/instructor for assistance. Extra attention nips harassment in the bud. Some students may feel uncomfortable going to a teacher or counselor, but definitely offer it as an option.
- Contact your teen’s teacher or principal if you believe your teen needs assistance. Be sure to tell your teen you have contacted them and why. Sometimes sexual harassment can get out of control.
How do I get my child to confide in me?
- Good communication between you and your children is the most important way to keep them safe from sexual abuse. Your goal is to encourage communication. Talk to your teen every day, and take time to listen and observe.
- Learn as many details as possible about your children’s activities and feelings. Encourage them to share their concerns. No matter how trivial or overwhelming the problem appears to you, listen to your teen and respect how he or she sees things. Your child will be more comfortable confiding in you. Make the time to understand. We are all learning how to express ourselves and sometimes just talking about it will make your teen feel better.
- Remember to praise the effort, not criticize any areas that are lacking. Nothing stops a conversation so completely as criticism. A trusting and loving relationship creates a climate in which teenagers are not afraid to confide in their parents. This is not only challenging, but also difficult, especially for working parents and parents of adolescents.
- Make your teen proud of what she/he has accomplished, not focused on how well others are doing. Comparing may only weaken your teen’s self esteem. Allow your teen to confide in you, even if you think their concern is insignificant. On the flip side, avoid making mountains from molehills because that also may erode your child’s self-confidence.
- Participate in activities such as sports, games, and driving with your teen. Some teens feel more comfortable confiding in parents when they are actively engaged in something. Sit-down conversations don’t always work.