Having survived a sexual assault you may feel scared, confused and overwhelmed and it may feel difficult to trust people in order to get the help you deserve. Here is some information that might be helpful.
The most important thing is that you are not alone in this. We can help. BARCC offers all young people, of all genders and sexual identities, ages 12 and older, free confidential counseling, medical accompaniment, legal services, and a 24 hr hotline.
BARCC’s goal is to help you regain control of your life and feel empowered to make decisions about what you want to do.
Nervous about contacting us? Maybe answers to some of the questions that we have heard from other young people might help.
Q. What is rape?
A. Massachusetts law defines rape as penetration of a bodily orifice (vagina, anus, or mouth) by a penis or other body part, or an object, against a person’s will or without his or her consent. Remember, this is a legal definition. It may not necessarily define your personal experience. If what happened to you or someone you care about does not appear to fit into this definition, it doesn’t mean you or they were not harmed. BARCC’s trained hotline counselors are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Q. What do I do if I was just sexually assaulted?
A. There are many ways to get immediate help.
- Call or contact a friend or family member whom you trust, so you are not alone.
- Call BARCC hotline and talk to a counselor about your options. You might want information about how to report the experience to the police or whether to go to the hospital.
- Make an appointment to see a counselor at BARCC or get referrals for other emergency caregivers in your area.
Q. What do I do if a friend was just sexually assaulted?
A. There are many things you can do for a friend who is in immediate crisis.
- Listen: Often, a person 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 your friend is telling you, but hold your opinions. Right now your friend needs to be heard.
- Let your friend decide what s/he wants to talk about: Don’t push your friend to talk about things s/he’s not ready to discuss. Don’t pry. Speak calmly and gently.
- Respect your friend’s privacy. Don’t tell other people about what happened to your friend unless they tell you it is OK.
- Remind your friend that you care: You can show affection by listening, speaking calmly and gently, believing them and keeping an open mind.
- Have your friend contact us about getting services.
Q. Is it my fault if I was partying with the person who hurt me?
A. No. Regardless of what you were doing or where you were, it was not your fault. Nobody has the right to hurt you.
Q. Why do I feel like I’m going crazy?
A. Individual responses can vary from person to person. Your brain is trying to sort out what happened to you. It’s important that you recognize that your feelings, whatever they are, are valid and matter. Some common reactions, but not the only reactions include:
- Memories of the experience come into your mind spontaneously
- Difficulty trusting others
- Shame and self blame
- Anger and rage
- Feeling guilty and/or responsible for what happened
- Feeling betrayed and alone
- Feeling the need to isolate yourself from family and friends
- Fear, terror, feeling unsafe
- Sadness and grief
- Feeling powerless, out of control, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed
- Experiencing nightmares or difficulty sleeping at night
Q. What can I do if I feel I am being sexually harassed in school?
A. There are a lot of things you can do to get help if you feel you are being harassed.
- Don’t blame yourself. Harassment is unwanted and can make you feel trapped, confused, helpless, embarrassed or scared. You didn’t ask for any of those things.
- Keep a written record of the incidents.
- Let the harasser know that you don’t like the behavior and the comments, if this feels safe.
- Tell someone you TRUST who can help you take the kinds of actions you want to take. This can be a friend, teacher, doctor, neighbor, family relative, parent, religious or community figure, or BARCC.
- Find out who at your school is responsible for dealing with complaints about sexual harassment. Talk to a teacher, principal, nurse and or guidance counselor. Find someone you TRUST. BARCC’s legal advocates can help you do this.
Q. Do my parents have to know that I’m getting help at BARCC?
A. Under certain circumstances, minors under the age of 18 can receive medical and counseling services without their parents’ consent. Some hospitals, medical providers and rape crisis centers can provide brief support and treatment without parental consent.
Q. Where can I find more resources for teens?
A. You can find more resources for teens here.