Does the person you’re “hanging out” with seem overly jealous and possessive, or make you feel guilty about spending time with your friends? Does anyone pressure you to do things sexually that you don’t want to do? Have you been threatened or stalked in person or on your phone, a social media site, or through email?
Consider these statistics:
- FACT: 1 in 3 teens in a dating relationship have been verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically abused.
- FACT: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before the age of eighteen.
- FACT: More than 70% of pregnant or parenting teenagers are beaten by their boyfriends.
These statistics aren’t just numbers, and they aren’t meant to frighten you. They tell the story of how frequently teens, just like you, are experiencing different forms of abuse.
It can happen no matter where you live, your family’s income level, your race or religion, your gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation (straight or LGBQ/T). There are some great websites and resources listed below where you can learn more about these issues and where you can turn for help for yourself or someone you know.
No matter how old you are, there are state and federal laws designed to protect you if someone has physically or sexually hurt you or threatened or put you in fear. You deserve to have a safe place to live, go to school and have fun.
You May Feel
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it’s common to feel overwhelmed, confused, afraid, depressed, alone, and unsure of what to do. You might be concerned about your use of alcohol and drugs, an eating disorder, risky sexual behaviors or suicide. You may wonder whom to turn to for help. You may wonder whether you will be allowed to make your own decisions about what happens next.
Once you learn about your rights, you can begin to feel less confused and more hopeful. Connecting with other teens and trusted adults can make the difference.
Things You Should Know
- You have the right to live free from sexual and domestic violence and stalking.
- If you are under 18 there are special protections and services available to you under Massachusetts law.
- Statutory rape – any sexual contact with a person under the age of 16 is considered statutory rape in Massachusetts. Be sure you know your rights by talking with someone you know and trust.
- Trained advocates at sexual and domestic violence programs are available to answer your questions about safety steps, medical care, legal options, services, and more.
You’ve already taken the first courageous step. You can learn more and find support by checking out these free and confidential resources.
For Help and More Information
All the sexual and domestic violence programs in Massachusetts provide free and confidential services to any victim or survivor over the age of 12. They also can help anyone at any age connect with appropriate services.
If you or someone you know needs help for a child under age 12, please contact The Massachusetts Childrens Alliance to learn about the Children’s Advocacy Center nearest you. They can help guide you and ease the child’s experience from the point of disclosure on. When you contact them, you will find that they understand your particular concerns and will work with you to ensure that you can live in safety and with dignity.
In Massachusetts, for emergency help, please call 911.