HOW -TO TALK TO YOUR TEENAGER ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE
Talk to your Teenager about Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse is a serious and unforgivable crime that is happening all over the world. Anyone can be a victim of any kind of sexual abuses and it is something that you should be wary of as a parent.
Nowadays, sexual abuse is very rampant. It can occur anywhere and anytime with the influence of technology teenagers are prone to sexual abuse through internet.
In fact, nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults occur to children ages 17 and under.
Teenagers are prone in sexual abuses especially if they don’t know what to do in that kind of situation, most of the victims of sexual abuse choose not to talk about it because of different factors, such as; they are afraid that something may happen or they are embarrassed about it.
You cannot be on the side of your teenager forever, given that they are growing and becoming an adult. But this should not be a problem because you can still help your teenager avoid being a victim of sexual abuses.
Sexual abuse is a serious and sensitive matter. That is why some parents are having difficulty talking it to their teenager.
But with proper approach and timing, you can talk to your Teenager about Sexual Abuse.
But how are you going to talk to your teenager about sexual abuse? Is there some kind of way to help you deliver correct and appropriate matter about this serious matter? Do not worry I have got you covered.
In this blog, I will list down all the effective ways to help you talk to your teenager about sexual abuse.
- What is sexual abuse?
- 10 Reasons why you should talk to your teenager about sexual abuse
- 15 Topics on sexual abuse you should make your teenager aware of.
- 5 Ways you can talk to your teenager about sexual abuse?
- 10 things to teach your teenager to prevent or escape a sexual assault.
- 7 Conversation starters to get you started
What is sexual abuse?
From the name itself we can suggest that it is something illegal, sexual abuse is any act of sexual gratification by an adult.
Any kind of intended sexual contact without the permission of the person is considered as sexual abuse.
As well simply touching not just the private parts of the body of teenager, but also any unwanted touch is considered as sexual abuse.
If a person tries to gratify any sexual desire form a teenager or women without consent it is considered as sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse may happen in different form, and any indecent or bad person can take advantage of your teenager.
Sexual abuse can occur via physical contact (Face to face interaction) or it can occur via different medium such as technology.
Victim of sexual abuse can experience long term trauma, depression, anxiety, and many other negative things that may affect their well-being.
To know more about depression and anxiety do read our articles How-to find out if your teenager is battling depression? and How-To SPOT & DEAL with Teenage Anxiety Issues, respectively.
10 Reasons why you should talk to your teenager about sexual abuse
Since sexual abuse has a lot of bad effects and it is something that anyone would not want. Maybe it is clear enough why you should open this sensitive matter to your teenager.
As a parent, you are the guidance of your teenager. It is part of your responsibility to talk to your teenager about sexual abuse as it is a serious and sensitive matter.
Is important to talk about this sensitive matter because
- You can help you teenager be informed about sexual abuse.
- You will help your teenager spot the triggers and can act to prevent it.
- Your teenager will know what to do if they experience sexual abuse.
- The guidance you give will make your teenager take the necessary action whenever any situation arises.
- You make your teen aware about the danger of sexual abuse.
- With open talk you can give assurance that your teenager can talk to you about this matter.
- You will get to understand the environment in which your teenager is better. And you can make it safe from any form of sexual abuse.
- You can give advice to your teenager on what next steps to take and come out of it completely in case someone tries to sexually abuse them.
- When you are made aware of the situation you can protect and act on behalf of your teenager so that such issues are not repeated.
- Above all you can ascertain the mental and emotional state of your teenager and address it immediately and help prevent further damage.
Remember depression is a primary reason for suicide. Such abuse can lead to depression and when not addressed can lead to suicide. Read our article How-to find out suicidal tendency in your teen? to know more.
It is hard to open this kind of conversation to a teenager, but it is something important. You do not know what may happen.
So, make sure to find the right time or moment to open and talk to your teenager about sexual abuse.
15 Topics on sexual abuse you should make your teenager aware of.
- Talk about the definitions and classifications of sexual abuse.
- What are the things that make an act a sexual abuse?
- Start by identifying the private parts of your teenager, they may know about it already because they are self-aware. Yet do it.
- So, talk about good touch and bad touch and what is prohibited and off limits to them.
- Tell them that it is completely OK to say ‘No’. It does not make them a bad person if they refuse.
- Educate your team that these matters should not be kept a secret from you. Talk about the common tricks and bribes people use to make children not bring it to adult notice.
- Give them reassurance that you will not put them in trouble if they tell you about an experience.
- Assure them that they are the most important person in your life and all others fall next to them. So, they can approach you and tell you even if it is on someone who is very close to you. You will still stand by and support your teenager.
- Tell them that these matters are very important, and you will always stop everything you are doing and make time to speak to them when they want to.
- Talk to them about your own experiences or experiences of your close circle people to drive home the point of sexual abuse and to tell them sexual safety stories.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of sexual assault. Which includes emotional trauma, STIs / STD’s, and the possibility of pregnancy. To emphasise the point of why they should be vigilant.
- Give them statistics related to sexual assault to drive home the point that it is a serious issue in the society, and it can happen to any of us.
- Talk to them about their responsibilities as a friend so that your teen can also look out for their friend’s wellbeing and vice versa.
- Tell them that not all sexual assault is physical in nature. Educate them about nonsexual assault like someone making them watch phonography, or pictures or sexting them etc.
- Talk about the law and legal protection given on this.
We request you to also spend some time and read our articles How-To have constructive sex talk with your teenager and Dating and relationships.
5 Ways you can talk to your teenager about sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is a sensitive matter and it is very challenging to open this kind of conversation to teenager. Since teenagers are innocent, and they are not aware about a lot of things especially about sexual abuse. It may also feel a bit off to talk sexual abuse to your teenager.
But as a parent, there is nothing wrong to talk about this because what you want is to raise the awareness of your teenager and to make them safe.
Below is the way on how you can talk to your teenager about sexual abuse.
# 1 . Start the conversation at the right place and time
Talk about serious and sensitive matter in the right place and time.
Many parents are having difficulties talking about sexual abuse to their teenager because they do not know when and where they should start the conversation.
If you really want to talk about sexual abuse to your teenager, then …
- Find the right place and time.
- Before starting the conversation ensure that both of you are in the right frame of mind which is relaxed and receptive.
- Do not start a conversation when there is a time constraint or an obligation to be met soon. Make sure it happens when the rest of the day is free for both.
- Ideally you can talk about this sensitive matter when there are no visitors in the house.
- Keep away from distractions such as Tv or Mobile. Ask your teen also to give you undivided time.
- Talk about sexual abuse if you are alone with your teenager
- Talk in a comfortable environment preferably in the comfort of your house when there is no other person in the house. Or while driving in your car with your teen.
These conversations are easy if you build a strong emotional connection with your teenager. To know how to build these connections read our article How-To Easily build Emotional Connection with your Teenager.
#2. Things to follow during your conversation on sexual abuse
Conversations on sexual abuse can happen in 2 ways. One which is initiated by you so that you would bring awareness to your teenager. And the other is when your teenager initiates and talks to you. To let you know about some experience that they have undergone or to clarify some doubts with you.
We have covered both the topics and written out the things that you need to follow when you are having either of these conversations with your teenager.
7 Things to follow when the conversation is initiated by you…
- When you speak to your teenager about sexual assault it is important that you stay calm.
- You talk slow and clearly. Do not make joke of the topic. Talk seriously so your teen can understand the importance of your talk.
- It is important that you exercise patience and listen calmly to them.
- When they ask you questions do not be judgemental about it?
- If they re-battle or question you. Ensure that your voice is not agitated and mind your tone and your pitch.
- When you are having a conversation Don’t rush these topics up. Give you a teenager time to sync in what you have to say.
- If you are at loss for the right answer take time. Think about it. Research and get back to your teen. Do not need to give them half-baked information.
Read our article How to Get your Point Across to Your Teenager This will help you during your conversation with your teen.
7 Things to follow when your teenager initiates the conversation
- Even if you are angry, irritated, or even feeling guilty when your teenager talks to you about an experience they have had. Appear Calm.
- Remember these nonverbal cues are important. They can make your teenager feel that what they are trying to tell you is agitating you. And they will stop them self from telling you.
- Your reaction might stop your teen from telling you because they feel that you will get hurt if you get to know about it.
- Do not interrupt your teen when they are talking. Or ask too many questions. This can confuse them more or embarrass them. Let them tell you as much as they are prepared to tell you. Do not pressurise them.
- So, when your teenager opens to you when you bring up this topic make sure that you calm the raising storm within you and appear to be composed.
- Exercise patience and wait till your teenager has finished all that they have to tell you. Do not rush them up.
- Respect them if they do not want to divulge all information or name of the person. Do not need to get all information in one go. Give them time to warm up.
Teach your kid how to face challenges in life with the right attitude. Our article How to Prepare your Teenager Face Challenges in Life can give you some insight into it..
#3. Talk about sexual assault directly
Talk to your teenager about sexual abuse in a direct way. Do not make it into baby talk or figurative talk. Call out the names of the private part if you are referring to them.
All this will let your teen know that it is serious, and these will make it clear to them.
Bring up statistics that you know of to make the point more explicit. And bring them awareness that there are real dangers that you are talking about. Real happenings in the world.
Give them statistics like almost 93% of the people who are victims of sexual abuse are known to them.
Explain to them that there is no specific “look” for a rapist or a sexual predator. They can look very normal and unassuming. Kind and Smart. And they can even be someone who has gained the teenager’s trust.
When you are direct and not mix words you there is less chance of mis understanding or mis communication.
Do talk about the dangers of sex, drugs and alchocol. If you are wondering what to talk on these topics read our article How-To talk to teen about Sex, Drugs and Alcohol
#4. Model appropriate behavior
When you start modeling appropriate behavior. Then your kid will know which on is acceptable and which is not.
One of the first reference point that your kid has in this regard is the touch of the parent. That helps them to know how a touch or a hug from them can bring in happiness.
And when they are hugged or touched Differently and it makes them feel uncomfortable they will be able to compare it with the touch or hug of their parents and call out a “bad touch” and can remove themselves from it.
Do not limit your explanation. Talk about inappropriate behavior that can be classified as a sexual abuse.
Some teenagers are being abused because they do not know that it was a sexual abuse. So, make sure to be specific and explain it very carefully to your teenager.
This will raise their awareness about their body. The more aware your teenager is the more likely they are safe from bad people.
#5. Let them know that they can talk to you anytime
Remind your teenager that you are always ready to listen to them. Tell them not to hesitate to tell whenever they encountered sexual abuse. Let them know that you will believe them no matter what.
Say something like “if someone tried any act of sexual abuse to you be sure to tell it to me right away” this will make your teenager to be brave because you are there to protect them.
This is important before ending the conversation about sexual abuse. Because this will give you assurance that your teenager is ready to speak up to you in case situation arises.
10 things to teach your teenager to prevent or escape a sexual assault.
Your objective is to educate your teenager and because of this objective it is much easier to talk about this serious matter.
Teach them what to do in case a situation arises. It is better to be ready in any situation …
- To avoid sexual abuse, ask your teenager to be aware in their surroundings. And be vigilant.
- Remind them to always go with their friends instead of walking alone.
- Tell them to avoid a place that is dangerous such as dark alley or abandoned buildings.
- If they are caught in an environment that they feel is suspicious. Ask then to make excuses and come out of it quickly.
- If they are stuck in a situation like having to hail a cab late night or be caught alone in a metro train. Tell them to always SMS you on the situation first. Just a “need help <location>” will do (Because signals while travelling can get cut off or dropped but SMS will reach even if there is a bit of delay). Then have them call you and have you online till they are out of it.
- Tell them they always need to stick to routes to destination that is well lit and main roads and one they are familiar with and not take short cuts.
- In case that they are in a public are and someone still try to pull dirty act, instruct them to ask for help.
- Tell them to shout in case of emergencies; in this way they can get the attention of people that are willing to help your teenager.
- But if the situation is too dangerous, ask them to keep it low and take appropriate decision. Carry a pepper spray, or a safety pin with them.
- Teach them basic self-defense techniques. Or send them to a class for it.
Teach your kid self confidence. This will help them face the situation with some courage and smart thinking and they can wriggle out of it.
If you like to know more on the ways to build self confidence read our article How to develop self-confidence in your teenager.
7 Conversation starters to get you to talk to your Teenager about Sexual Abuse
- Bring the subject directly stating you like your teen to give time so you can talk about sexual assault.
- Start with a question (actual or hypothetical one) like… if they know about someone in their circle who experienced sexual assault? Or Ask, “Are you aware of what sexual assault means…?” “What do you know…?” Or “If this happens what would you do…?”
- Use Current affairs related to sexual assault in news and media. Get a paper clip of a sexual assault news and ask your teen to read about it and then start discussing.
- Start with a trivia / statistics / fact. like “Do you know 8/10 cases of sexual assault happens with someone the kid knows, do you think this fact is right?”
- Watch a movie together that addresses this topic in the story line.
- Bring up a joke or a song lyric that has a sexual connotation and read it out to your teen and ask them if they know what the joke or the song is talking about…
- Lastly my favorite one… Start with a story or experience you had… start with “when I was your age…”
Sexual abuse is not a fun thing to talk about to your teenager, but it is a must. Especially nowadays that everyone can be a victim of sexual abuses.
Remember that your objective is to educate and make your teenager aware about it. Do not hesitate to open a dialogue about sexual abuse because it is for the safety of your teenager.
With the proper approach and knowledge, you can give your teenager the right information about sexual abuse. Theses knowledge will prepare and make your teenager ready whenever someone tries to sexually abuse your teenager.
Let us make our teenager safe away from sexual abuse by talking and making sure that your teenager is well equipped and have a safe teen phase.