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Adolescent Survivors

For teens, regaining a sense of control after a sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse is an important part of recovery. Because of age, teens are not always able to make their own decisions but you can still help them feel empowered.

  • Listen: Often, a teen in crisis just needs someone to hear her/his story. You can show you are really listening by not judging them or questioning what you are hearing.
  • Be supportive: It's natural for you to have beliefs and attitudes that will be challenged by what the teen is telling you, but, hold your opinions. Right now they just need to be heard.
  • Let the teen decide what they want to talk about: Don't push the teen to talk about things they are not ready to discuss. Don't pry. Speak calmly and gently.
  • Respect the teen's privacy: Don't tell other people about what happened to them unless they tell you it is OK.
  • Remind the teen that you care:You can show affection by listening, speaking calmly and gently, believing them and keeping an open mind.
  • Male survivors often feel particularly isolated after a sexual assault. Resources for male survivors and peer support groups can be an effective way to show a teen that he is not alone.

See more resources for teens.

Consent and Legal Issues

Statutory rape. The legal age of consent is 16 in Massachusetts. This means that anyone under that age is not legally considered capable of making the decision to have sex. For more information on statutory rape law and related concerns, contact your local Rape Crisis Center.

Parental consent. Teenagers often want to know if they can receive services and treatment without their parents finding out. Policies vary by agency and organization. For more information on individual policies, contact the specific agency, hospital, or police department directly.

Generally, a teenage victim of sexual assault has a right to confidential medical care for an assault including STI/HIV testing and treatment, emergency contraception, and physical care for injuries.

  • Medical personnel will not perform a rape kit on a minor who does not want one, even if the parents insist.
  • Medical personnel are required to report abuse and neglect of teens under 18 to the Department of Children and Families.
  • Contact a legal advocate for more information about mandatory reporting.
Forensics for Survivors © 2015 All Rights Reserved

This project was supported by Grant #2009-WF-AX-0014 awarded by the Violence Against Women Grants Office, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety & Security Office of Grants & Research and subgranted to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Points of view in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice or the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety Programs Division.