Being a teen in an abusive situation can vary, from being picked on at school, to living in a negligent household, to experiencing physical or sexual assault.
Sometimes it’s your own family who hurts you. They’re meant to protect you. But in reality, they sometimes hurt you most.
It’s not your fault, and nobody expects you to know what to do next. By being here, you’ve taken a very mature step in helping yourself.
We’re devastated that you’re in an abusive situation, but no situation is without hope. Even if you’re not an adult, there’s a lot you can do to take matters into your own hands.
A common fear with children is the fear that once a teacher learns about the situation, the teacher will treat them differently or let everyone else know what’s going on.
That’s a normal fear, but fortunately many teachers across the US are trained in how to handle child abuse in a calm, confidential manner.
Find a teacher you trust – one who seems understanding and empathetic – and ask if it’s okay to explain your situation to them. They’ll take your story seriously and do all they can to help.
In many cases, teachers can pick up on the signs of abuse and may approach you instead. If that happens, you can be assured that they’re on your side and will work with you to get the best result possible.
If there aren’t any teachers you feel comfortable talking to, try and think about any other adults or authoritative figures you can talk to.
Does your school have a counselor? If so, they’ll be more than happy to listen to you and help you in any way they can.
What about a crossing guard who always waves to you in the morning? Or the older youth leader at your after school program?
Many of us have also turned to friends’ parents for support, shelter, and help finding next steps.
If there’s any adult you feel safe around, ask them for some time to talk about something serious. You can trust that they’ll do their best to help figure things out.
Bullying can fall into many different kinds of abuse: verbal, emotional, and physical. If someone is calling you names and it no longer feels like a playful joke, or if it escalates into physical violence, try keeping a journal.
Make a note of the day, time, and the events of the incident. When the time is right, you can go to a teacher or counselor with your journal. You now have proof of everything that’s been going on, and you’ll have a much greater chance of putting a stop to the abuse for good.
Even if you can get out of a seriously abusive situation, there’s always the fear of the transition.
What if you’re afraid of being put into a foster home, leaving behind siblings, or having to move schools?
There’s no guarantee that everything can remain the same, but you can express these concerns to your guidance counselor, social worker or Child Protective Services officer. Then, they can try their best to ensure that you can stay in a place where you feel comfortable.
When it comes to family, try and see if you can work out a situation where you and your siblings can stay together. If you’re scared of a foster home, ask a family member if they would be willing to take you in. If they are, you and your family member can let your CPS officer know, and you can work out a safe, comfortable way to transition from your abusive household.
If you see one of your parents being abused by the other, remember it’s not your fault, but that reaching out for help will help more than just you.
Are you able to notify a teacher, counselor, family member, or other adult figure of the situation? Try to let someone in on what’s happening as soon as you can – in case the situation escalates and you need help from the proper authorities.
Ask your parent if they would be willing to leave. You can help make a safety plan for how to leave if things don’t improve.
If they don’t want to leave, take a step back and assess how you are being affected, personally. And if the situation is taking a toll on your well-being, ask yourself if the pain of staying is worth the potential pain of leaving and asking for help.
Our parents are human too, and they sometimes struggle to make difficult decisions, even if their decision will help both them and you.
Leaving is not an easy decision to make, but only you know what’s best for your own well-being. Just don’t leave before making arrangements with a local agency who can help you.
Speaking of making arrangements — don’t hesitate to ask for help from people who know how to. There are understanding people at all of the following places. If you don’t feel good about one support service, there are others to try talking to. Help is out there, as long as you ask and fight for it!
(The following are from the website ConnectSafely.org, where you can find an even more extensive list of resources for help.)
“Boys Town National Hotline 1 800 448-3000 (serves girls too) – The Boys Town National Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and staffed by specially trained counselors. Parents, teens and families can find help with a range of issues including abuse, anger, depression, school issues, bullying etc.
Covenant House’s Nineline 1 800 999-9999 – A support service and 24-hour helpline for homeless youth. Deals with a wide range of issues, including bullying, suicide, basic needs, health, sex, drugs & alcohol and sex.
ReachOut 1 800 448-3000 – Site where teens and young adults can find the information they need, reach out, tell their stories, and voice their opinions “without fear of being judged or being different.”
Crisis Text Line – Lets people reach out for support via text messaging by texting to 741-741
Love is Respect National Dating Abuse Helpline 866 331-9474 – 24-hour helpline for teens, parents, friends and family, peer advocates. All communication is confidential and anonymous.
National Domestic Violence Hotline 800 799-SAFE (7233) or text TELLNOW to 85944 – A 24-hour hotline for any type of domestic abuse, including dating abuse and cyberstalking.
The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative – Provides counseling and technical advice to victims of nonconsensual pornography (“revenge porn”) through a 24-hour Crisis Helpline”
If you’ve already reached out for help, you’re welcome to just come let off steam with us at Supportiv.