Of all sexual assault victims under the age of 18, two out of three are ages 12-17¹. However, for parents, this age can be the most challenging when communicating with your teen.
Approaching a topic like sexual assault can be intimidating for a parent. That is why starting with these four main questions can help kick-start a conversation with your teen that can pave the road to recovery or work as a preventative method for safety.
Katie Yates director of Washington Says No More explains “Katie please insert a quote”
Sometimes this is the most difficult question to answer, yet one of the most important. A victim of domestic violence or assault can often find themselves lost and confused after a traumatic event. Sometimes abusers are family, friends or someone who is hard to get away from. In fact, according to Rainn.org, seven out of 10 instances of sexual assault are committed by someone known to the victim. As a parent, knowing the “who” can be a crucial first step to moving forward, yet one of the most difficult to hear.
What happened? Without being overbearing, assure your teen that you are there as support and are listening to what they have to say with open and non-judgmental ears. While these situations can be difficult for your child to recall, it is important that they know you are there to support and help them no matter what. These conversations can be embarrassing or intimidating to have with an adult, so reminding your teen that they have done nothing wrong is important to understanding what happened and how to handle it.
It is never too late to start recovering. Finding out when an event of domestic violence or assault happened is necessary to addressing your teen’s situation. At this age, one week can feel like a lifetime. In asking when something happened, you are also gauging various other aspects such as if it has happened since then, how your teen has handled the situation and how it can be avoided in the future. This is also supporting evidence that can be used for a police report, so knowing the answer ahead of time makes for one less question you will need to ask later.
As a parent, knowing where your teen was abused allows for gathering valuable information from witnesses, while also informing you of who may have been involved or who may be able to help. Asking “where” may also be difficult for your teen to clearly recall, or may inform you that it has happened in more than one place. Your teen may have been somewhere they were not supposed to have been, however as a figure of support it is crucial that you remain focused on the problem at hand and the specific details, such as this, that are included.
Although this may be a difficult conversation to start it is necessary to create an open door relationship especially throughout this time in your teen’s life.