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1-800-656-HOPE (4673) National Hotline for Sexual Abuse
If you are on this page for yourself, a loved one, a friend or for someone you care about first let me say that I am sorry that you even have to read about this topic. However I am glad you found this site and this page. Did you know that sadly:
1 in every 3 girls in this country will be sexually abused by someone outside her family by the time she reaches the age of 18.
1 in every 4 girls in this country will be sexually abused by someone inside her family by the time she reaches age 18.
1 in every 7 boys, maybe as many as 1 in 6 boys in this country will be sexually abused by someone by the time he reaches 18. A website for male teens and men who have been sexually abused: www.1in6.org
The current term for people who have been sexually abused is survivor.
Sexual abuse is a crime in every state in this country. Whether the crime is a felony (resulting in severe punishment) or a misdemeanor (resulting in less severe punishment) varies from state to state.
The Abuse Was Not Your Fault!
You may have been told by the abuser that it is all your fault, but it is not true. It is not your fault.
The abuse is NEVER the fault of the victim.
Sexual abuse is the big label, and incest refers to sexual abuse committed by a family member or someone in a kinship role. Abuse is never the victim's fault; the responsibility is always the abuser's. Sexual abuse does happen; it's not something kids make up or lie about; it is a real problem in our society. You Are Not Alone! It happens to a lot of kids out there.
Sexual abuse is a tough subject to talk about let alone to experience. Many teens have shared with me that they have not ever told anyone about it. I understand that on a personal level as I also experienced sexual abuse myself and didn't tell anyone for 12 years. Back then in the 70's we didn't have hotlines to call, we didn't talk about such things and I didn't know of anyone I could talk to about it. I was scared, alone, guilty, and felt very ashamed. That is why I want young people to know that they are not alone and that there is someone to talk to and there are books, groups, hotlines and web sites to reach out to.
For a list of helpful books, web sites and hotlines see below. Included are books for teens who have been abused, as well as books just about the sexual abuse of boys, as well as books to help friends or family members.
There are common emotions that survivors experience such as:
Some teens feel frozen because of their experience: emotionally, socially, spiritually and personally. Some teens find that they have an amazing supply of strength which helps them make it through their ordeal. Others don't know how to cope and don't even have a clue as to where to begin.
You have a choice whether to:
Let your past defeat you
Resist the emotional struggle inside you
Get stuck in a cycle of self defeating thoughts and behaviors
Explore your heart, soul and mind to learn from your experiences
Refuse to allow people who have hurt you to control your present and future
Reshape your self-concept and become what you are capable of being
(adapted from It Happened To Me: A Teen's Guide to Overcoming Sexual Abuse)
Telling Reporting Protecting
If you are currently being abused and no one knows about your situation, tell someone who can help. A trusted adult friend, teacher, responsible family member, law enforcement official, or social agency worker can help you get started in your recovery. Don't think the abuse will end on its own, as that rarely happens. Be couragous enough to admit you need help, even if your asking for help creates friction with others. Recovery requires that you begin now to take care of yourself and this is the first step. If someone doesn't believe you, calls you a liar or a troublemaker, move on and find someone who will believe you and give you the compassion and understanding that you deserve.
Here are people that many share their secret with: a mother, father, guardian, teacher, friend's parent, a school counselor, a religious leader, a best friend, a medical person, other people or the police, or special agency like a rape crisis center. All of the crisis centers in NJ are listed at the bottom of this page.
Authorities on the subject of sexual abuse are the people who can help. They know how to make the abuse stop and see that the abuser gets the help they need to stop abusing kids. They know how to help you and your family figure out what to do next. They can help the healing process begin.
Many states have laws requiring people to report any suspicion of sexual abuse. Other states get more specific and say that anyone in the educational system (teachers, counselors, principals, guidance counselors) the medical profession (doctors and nurses) the social service system (social workers) the mental health professions (psychologists, therapist, counselors) or the police department must report any disclosures of abuse. It is possible that depending on the state that you live in , that anyone you tell may by law have to report what you said. This isn't a bad thing, but it may not feel that way to you now. It may be the only way to get the abuse to stop and give you a chance to be safe and begin to heal.
Once a report is made, authorities will get involved. They are the people who work with cases involving sexual assault, sexual abuse, and incest. The need to find out exactly what happened and to make sure that it doesn't happen again. That is the goal, but it is not always the reality. It can be a very tough process. Some states are better in that they have the authorities work as a team. That way the victim doesn't have to retell their story over and over again to different people such as the police detective and the child protective service people. Say you tell a police detective, later in the day or a few days later someone from protective services will come and ask you to tell them the story as well. If the district attorney's office gets involved they will interview you again. Try to keep your cool and cooperate. It isn't easy but it is what many have done with the goal of getting safe, getting help and getting the healing process to begin.
After reporting abuse, the authorities will contact your non abusing guardian. This is the person who is responsible for you and who did not abuse you. If your mom's boyfriend was the abuser, then the authorities will contact your mother. If the abuser was outside your family, they will contact one or both of your parents. Let's say it was a mother's boyfriend, and if your mom doesn't believe you or calls you a liar (as sometimes happens), then the authorities have no choice but to place you in a safe place for a time until things get sorted out. This may mean you have to live in a foster home for a couple of nights or stay with a friend or relative. Speak up. It is okay to ask what is happening and make suggestions about where you could stay until things calm down.
The abuser will find out you reported the abuse as they need to be interviewed. This can be very scary for young people. If you are afraid for your safety tell the social worker on your case, the police , your doctor or anyone else you trust. They can help keep you safe.
Staying Safe: The Main Thing is To Keep You SAFE!!!
This is a great time to get someone to be with you. If it isn't the person who made the report, then call someone else to be with you to hold your hand or simply offer emotional support.
Taking Care of Yourself:
Think about your current relationships now with people. Are you connected to anyone who is hurting you in any way now? You can make the decision today to begin to let go of harmful relationships. Working on past sexual abuse issues while remaining in any type of abusive relationship will be very challenging.
Seek professional help as you work through these difficult issues. You can email me for names of therapists in NJ who specialize in this area or you can call your state mental health association or hotline to ask for such professionals. It helps a lot if the counselor knows about sexual abuse issues which can result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.
A great book to use with a therapist or other trained professional : It happened to Me: A Teens Guide to Overcoming Sexual Abuse by Wm. Lee Carter, Ed.D This book is designed to be used by teens who have experienced sexual abuse in their life and are at a point of wanting to learn from their experience so that they can become stronger in spite of (or even because of) it. The workbook can be used by individuals, groups or with a counselor.
Teens often share that the abuse has affected their self esteem. Teens will question their value, often feel unattractive, unimportant, or even worthless. Damaged self esteem can be rebuilt. Encourage these teens to take note of their positive traits. Ask others to share those with the teen if the teen can't think of anything. Look into the mirror a couple of times a day and say something positive to that person. It will feel funny in the beginning but in a few days you will look forward to seeing that face in the mirror.
Most survivors of sexual abuse do not like to talk about what happened. However as teens grow emotionally they can eventually share about their experience. Telling their story of abuse is often healing. Many teens share that each time they tell their story they feel stronger. Since it is difficult to talk about many teens keep their story a secret. Refusing to talk about the pain of abuse makes healing very difficult. Most teens who experience sexual abuse tell no one. Secrets become like a teapot on a stove that is always on boil. Many reasons why teens don't tell is embarrassment, feeling "dirty", not wishing to relive the situation, trying to avoid upsetting the family, a desire to "look good" in the eyes of others, fear of being judged or talked about, not knowing how to bring up the subject. Don't let anyone force you to talk about it or to tell your secret until you feel ready to do so. Know that healing can begin when you acknowledge that you were abused. Many teens like to start by getting a book or going to a web site like www.RAINN.org which is all about sexual abuse and provides a lot of help to survivors. There is a link to the site below. Click on it.
What to do if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted or abused:
Sexual Abuse happens to about 1 in every 4 females and 1 in every 6 males.
If a friend confides in you that she or he has been sexually assaulted or abused it is important for you to know:
An assailant can be a :
boy next door or down the street
the varsity captain you have a crush on
a guy you met at a party
someone who your friend or family knows
78% of rapes are committed by people the victim knows!
Sexual violence is any form of unwanted, unwelcome or coercive sexual contact.
A victim is unable to consent if:
he/she is under age 13
a victim under age 16 when the assailant is at least 4 years older or
a victim with diminished mental capacity, which can mean a victim is drugged, drunk, high, unconscious, or has a developmental disability.
You have the right to change your mind about having sex
Kissing only means you agree to kiss
Just because you are in his home, he is not entitled to sex
Sex is not a necessity for anyone, even if they are aroused.
No one is entitled to have sex with anyone without their consent!
Believe your friend.
The force used in rape can take many forms:
Physical force, such as overpowering someone or using a weapon
Emotional coercion, such as threats
If someone says, "I was raped," the most important thing you can do is to believe them.
Offer support and safety:
Offer to listen if your friend wants to talk.
Help explore options. Your friend will need to decide about medical attention, counseling and whether to call the police or not. Support whatever decision your friend makes.
Encourage your friend to seek medical attention. Do not take a shower, bath or go to the bathroom until you she/he gets medical attention. Even if you don't report the rape, still get medical attention. The hospital will be able to test for STD's, HIV/AIDS and talk about possible preventing of pregnancy.
If it has just occurred, encourage your friend to go to a hospital or a doctor immediately, before showering or changing clothes.
A doctor, nurse or other health care provider can check for injuries that might not be obvious. They can give your friend medication to prevent pregnancy, and check for sexually transmitted diseases.
They can collect evidence should your friend decide to press charges.
Encourage your friend to seek counseling:
Immediately after a rape, calling a rape or crisis hot-line can help your friend deal with the crime. There is one in Westfield, NJ called the Union County Rape Crisis Center. The phone number is 908-233-7273. This is a 24 hour hot-line and someone will pick up and speak to your friend anytime. Encourage your friend to call, as this is very helpful. Also counseling helps many survivors as well.
To report an attack:
To report an attack, call your local police department. If you are at school, call the campus officials or school safety officer. A rape crisis counselor can help with these issues as well. Reporting the crime and pressing charges may help a person feel empowered after a rape, plus helps to prevent this crime from happening to someone else.
Offer to stay with your friend:
Your friend will probably not want to be alone.
Offer to stay with your friend or ask if she would like to stay with you. Assure your friend that it was not your friend's fault.
No matter the circumstances, rape is never the victim's fault.
Be ready to help with the long -term healing:
It can take a long time for a person to heal emotionally after a rape. Some people are strongly affected for a few months, others for years. Help your friend make decisions about counseling, and support that will help with the healing process. Do not expect your friend to just "get on" with life and act normally. They are adjusting to a new normal. Their world may not feel safe to them right now. Encourage them to do things that help them to feel safe.
Take care of your own emotional needs too.
Knowing someone that you care about has been raped is shocking and scary. You may need to talk to a counselor or friend about your feelings too.
Remember that the most important thing you can do for a friend who has been raped is to believe it happened and to be a friend.
There is also a national sexual abuse hot-line: 1-800-656-HOPE
REMEMBER: NO means No . You are not to blame. You are not alone. It is not your fault.
What you Need to Know about Sexual Assault at College:
Morris County Sexual Assault Center, Morristown NJ 07960
is hosted by Morristown Memorial Hospital and provides free and confidential services to survivors of sexual assault ages 12 and up. Counseling is also available for partners, friends and family members. A skilled counselor is available to meet with you on your campus or at MCSAC. Services include individual and group counseling, advocacy services, 24 hour hotline and crisis counseling and community education. Feelings associated with the assault will not just go away by themselves. They are there to help. All calls confidential. To schedule an appointment or get info call: 973-971-4715 or call the 24 hour hotline 973-829-0587
Normal feelings after an assault:
shock, inability to concentrate, fear, guilt, nightmares, suicidal feelings, not knowing who to trust, depression, self doubt, disorientation, confusion, flashbacks, anxiety, shame, betrayal, concern for the rapist and eating disorders.
How often does it happen at college?
90% of victims of sexual assault on college campus know their offender
1 in 4 college women have been victims of rape or attempted rape during their college years
Sometimes it's not safe to resist a rape. The rape is still not your fault.
60% of rapes at college occurred in the victim's residence, 31% occurred in other living quarters on campus and 10% at a fraternity
The most common date rape drug used is alcohol
Fast Facts on College Victims......
1 in 4 college students has been the victim of a sexual assault or attempted assault
92% of college students who are sexually assaulted (men and women) know their attacker
Alcohol is a factor in 90% of the sexual assaults reported
Of reported hate crimes, 15% were motivated by sexual orientation
42% of college women who are raped tell on one about their assault
84% of college men who committed rape said that what they did was definitely not rape
The risk of rape is 4 times higher for women ages 16-24 than for any other group
NJ Rise in Teen Pregnancy Can Link to Abuse:
After a 15 year decline, NJ last year showed a 3% increase in teen pregnancy. According to a Harvard School of Public Health study and the Center for American Progress, the recent rise may link to childhood sexual abuse. An estimated 60% of teen girls' first pregnancy are preceded by sexual molestation, rape or attempted rape. Harvard's research said that 30-44% of teen mothers were the victims of rape. It also suggested that girls with a history of sexual dating violence are more likely to engage in substance abuse, engage in eating disordered behaviors, heavy smoking and are 8 to 9 times more likely to have attempted suicide in the previous year. (Atlantic Health Campus S.T.A.R.) Stand Together Against Rape
Start a Men of Strength Group on Your Campus:
www.menagainstrape.org Men Can Stop Rape is a non profit out of Washington DC.
Helpful books and web site:
Invisible Girls: The Truth about Sexual Abuse- A book for teen girls, young women and everyone who cares about them by Patti Feuereisen
Patti has a web site that is for girls: www.girlthrive.com ( girl teens healing from rape and incest victoriously emerge)
How Long Does it Hurt: A Guide to Recovering from Incest and Sexual Abuse for Teenagers, Their Friends and Their Families by Cynthia Mather ( one of the best books yet for teens and family)
It Happened to Me: A Teens Guide to Overcoming Sexual Abuse- a workbook by William Lee Carter (great workbook for teens to be used on their own or better yet while working with a trusted trained professional).
The Me Nobody Knows: A Guide for Teen Survivors
by Barbara Bean & Shari Bennett (This unique book is for teenagers in therapy that have been victims of sexual abuse, as well as for their
therapists. Through written, visual, and relaxation exercises, the book shows survivors how to begin to cope.)
The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass
BOOKS for BOYS:
Don't Tell: The Sexual Abuse of Boys by Michel Dorais (An important book for boys as so often boys never report their abuse and instead continue to live with the effects. The author shows through first hand accounts, that certain reactions are specific to male victims as they attempt to preserve their physical integrity and conceptions of masculinity. He provides innovative strategies for both prevention and treatment that will be of use to those who have suffered abuse as well as to their families and all those who are trying to help them- spouses, friends, social workers, and therapists.
On Date and Acquaintance Rape:
I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape by Robin Warshaw.
Lucky by Alice Sebold ( author of the Lovely Bones) shares about her rape as a college freshman in this memoir.
National Sexual Assault Hotline
At any given moment, more than 1,100 trained volunteers are on duty and available to help victims at RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) -affiliated crisis centers across the country.
How does the National Sexual Assault Hotline work?
The concept behind the hotline is simple. When a caller dials 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), a computer notes the area code and first three digits of the caller's phone number. The call is then instantaneously connected to the nearest RAINN (see link to site below) member center. If all counselors at that center are busy, the call is sent to the next closest center. The caller's phone number is not retained, so the call is anonymous and confidential unless the caller chooses to share personally-identifying information.
Why was the hotline set up this way?
When RAINN was founded, we surveyed the directors of dozens of rape crisis centers and state and national anti-sexual assault organizations as well as many victims of sexual assault. The advice was unanimous: The best support services for rape, sexual assault and incest victims are those offered at community rape treatment centers.
Each local center is the best resource for victims in its community, not only for counseling but also for information about community resources and emergency protocols. In addition, because rape and sexual assault laws vary by state, local centers are in the best position to advise survivors on the legal aspects of the crime.
RAINN found that while local centers were well equipped to handle the counseling, the lack of a national hotline meant that the issue did not receive as much attention as it should. As a result, RAINN developed a unique national hotline system -- one that combines all the advantages of a national organization with all the abilities and experience of local programs. It was the country's first decentralized national hotline, and has since been emulated by many other organizations.
Thanks to private sector collaboration, RAINN and rape crisis centers have been able to work together to raise awareness of local services and help rape, sexual assault and incest survivors receive the best possible care.
Are hotline calls completely confidential?
RAINN does not have any record of a caller's phone number or name. Callers always have the choice of whether or not to share their real name or phone number with counselors; they are never obligated to reveal this information. In other words, we will know who you are only if you choose to tell us.
If a caller is under age 18 and chooses to share personally-identifying information with the counselor, most states require the counselor to notify authorities of the sexual assault of a minor. Only in this situation -- when a minor calls and chooses to reveal identifying information -- does the pledge of confidentiality not apply.
While almost all callers are connected directly to a counselor, a handful of our local affiliates use an answering service after regular business hours. In these cases, callers may choose to leave a phone number with the answering service, in which case the number will be confidential and will be given directly to a counselor to call back. Or, callers may choose to call back during business hours, when they will be connected directly.
How can I volunteer with the hotline?
Hotline volunteers are all associated with a rape crisis center in their area. Search our counseling centers database to find a center in your area. Once you've located your local center, contact their business office or visit their website to get more information about volunteering at that center.
How can my center become a part of the National Sexual Assault Hotline?
To learn how your local rape crisis center can become an affiliate of the National Sexual Assault Hotline, visit our Rape Crisis Center Information page or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (see the RAINN site below for this information)
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NJ Rape/ Sexual Abuse Centers and 24 hr Hotlines by County:
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Contact Lisa: email@example.com for more information