In Pennsylvania, to report abuse, please click here to find phone numbers and resources.
How Do I Tell?
Young people and adults who face their abuse and tell someone are very brave! And – it is never too late to tell! I wish you could be sure that everything would be easy and everyone would understand and help in just the way you want.
But what happens when you tell depends on a lot of things. You cannot help how a person reacts. You can only do your best to be brave, honest and as clear as you can about what happened.
Remember that you deserve to be safe and respected. And – you want this person to not hurt you again. Telling is the best way to make sure bad things don't happen but you have to tell the truth and don't back down. If you tell one person and they don't help, keep telling until someone gets it!
- Think about the best person for you to tell. Tell the person who you most trust to listen to you. A person who cares about you.
- Sometimes the people the closest to us may also be close to the person who hurt you. Telling may be hard for them to hear and understand at first even if they love you!
- Perhaps you could tell an extended family member who is not as close to the person who hurt you. Or perhaps telling a school teacher, counselor, social worker, nurse or even your doctor may be the place to start. You could also tell the police.
- They may also be able to help you to tell your family. Tell them clearly what happened. People won't understand well if you say something like "he bothers me" or "she won't leave me alone". You must tell the whole truth, for instance, "he touched my vagina" or "she touched my penis". Other things that are against the law are also sexual abuse. Showing young people pornography and talking about adult sexual things is against the law!
- If you live with the person who abuses you, ask the person you tell to make sure that no one tells the abusive person until they make sure you are safe!
What Will Happen
The most important thing to happen is that the person you tell will make sure you are safe.
- Remember to keep telling until someone understands.
- The person you tell should report the abuse to the people who can make sure you are safe. That would be Child Protective Services or the police. You could make a report yourself if you want.
Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline can direct you to your local resources.
1 (800) 4–A-Child or www.childhelp.org
- After a report is made, you will have to tell Child Protective Services and/or the police the whole truth. If you stick to the truth, they will be more able make sure it doesn't happen again!
Keeping secrets is the only way sexual abuse can keep happening. Tell someone so the abuse stops and you can feel better!