supporting TWEEN survivors
Know signs of abuse:
All adults who have or work with youth should know the signs of sexual violence. This is a good tip sheet to learn about warning signs for children and adolescents.
If you suspect abuse:
Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem okay, it probably isn’t. You could use some of our tween resources, our teen resources, or other resources to start a conversation if you are not sure exactly how.
If you’re concerned about a youth and they start to allude to possible sexual abuse/assault, you can say something like, “Can you tell me more about that?”
Remind the youth that no one should touch them without their consent. Let them know that if someone or something makes them feel uncomfortable, nervous, or scared, they can come and talk to you or another adult they trust.
If you aren’t sure how to navigate the situation, call your local sexual assault support line. In Iowa, you can call the Iowa Victim Services Call Center 24/7 at 1-800-770-1650 or text IOWAHELP TO 20121.
Decide what actions you can take to help keep the youth safer. If you’re not sure, your local advocacy program can help talk through your options. Follow through on the decision that you have made.
Take care of yourself and seek support.
If a YOUTH discloses to you:
If a youth discloses to you, it’s important to stay calm. Thank them for telling you. Make sure that they know that you believe them, that what happened was not their fault, and that you are going to help. A part of survivors’ ability to heal is how people respond to the first disclosure. Be the person that youth needs at that moment: calm, supportive, and kind.
Be honest with them and don’t make promises you may not be able to keep. This includes saying something like “we’ll get the person who hurt you” or “you never have to see them again.” This may not be true, and it may also not be what they want. Be as honest as possible with them about what you’re going to do with this information, who else you need to talk to about it, and anything you know about what might happen next.
Responding to disclosures is difficult any time, but it can feel overwhelming when the person disclosing is a youth that you care about. You are not alone. You can talk to an advocate. You can also take a look at these resources for help on what to do next. Answers to these frequently asked questions may also be helpful.
Know Signs of Abuse
All adults who have or work with children should know the signs of child sexual abuse. This is a good tip sheet to learn about warning signs.
If you are the parent of the child,
you can talk to an advocate here.