The Gatehouse for Youth
Welcome to the section especially for you!
Are you carrying a secret you wish you weren’t? Are there issues in your life you are having difficulties with? Below are some topics that you may find helpful as you are going through this difficult time. Sometimes adults and older youth can do things that you don’t want them to do to you. They know that this is wrong which is why they tell you to keep it a ‘secret'. If someone is doing any of the following to you then you can tell an adult that you trust what is happening to you. There are different people that you can talk to such as your parents, teacher, school guidance counsellor or any other adult that you have a good relationship with that you trust. If you don’t feel ready to talk but you want what is happening to you to stop then you could always write a letter and pass it to someone that you trust to read.
Why should I tell someone?
Being abused is one of the most painful and traumatic experiences anyone can go through. Boys are abused just as much as girls and adolescents just as much as younger children.
Remember you are not alone.
Abuse is often kept as a ‘secret’ leaving you feeling alone, frightened, scared, isolated and confused. Most cases of abuse are carried out by someone you know, love and trust which makes it even harder to disclose what is happening. This is not your fault and that is something you must never forget – abusers make their victims keep the ‘secret’ because they, as adults or older youths, know this is wrong.
You have already taken a big step by reading this information. Now you must tell an adult or somebody you can trust what is happening to you so they can put a stop to it. This could be a parent, family member, school counselor, doctor, therapist, friend’s parent, older sibling. This is a very big step but one that will help. If you tell someone and they don’t help for whatever reason keeps telling until someone listens and does do something.
Don’t give up until you are heard!
There may be many reasons why you are struggling with telling someone what has or is happening to you, such as:
- Your relationship with the perpetrator. If they are a family member or someone you love or trust. You may be torn between feelings of loyalty to this person. Remember what is happening is not your fault or that you did something to deserve this. Your abuser knows this is wrong, that is why you are being told to keep it a ‘secret’
- You may be feeling that if you tell someone you may not be believed
- You are dependent on that person. They may be someone that you rely on everyday especially if it is a family member
- Feelings of confusion, guilt, anger – these are all natural feelings to feel. But you have to remember that this is wrong and nobody has the right to treat you and your body in this way!
- Feelings of fear – you may have been threatened by your abuser that bad things will happen to you or someone you care about if you reveal the ‘secret’
If you don’t feel you are able to actually talk with someone then you write a letter and give it to an adult you trust – your parents, teacher, counsellor, a friend's parents etc.
When you have told somebody what is happening to you will feel:
- That you are not alone or isolated
- Better for having told someone
- The support of an adult or friend that can give you advice and help you begin the steps to stopping the abuse
Once you have made the decision to tell someone about what has happened who should that person be?
There are lots of different people you can tell such as a parent or adult who you trust, school teacher, counselor, family friend, a friend's parent. If you tell one person and they don’t or can’t help do not give up until you find someone who can help you.
What will happen when you have told someone?
Once you have told someone what has happened to you may feel overwhelmed with everything that happens next. The person you have told will either contact Children’s Aid or the police and they will take the lead in stopping the abuse.
Depending on when the abuse has taken place you may have to have a medical examination – if you live in Toronto this will happen at Sick kids hospital. A specially trained nurse will carry out the examination- it won’t hurt but at times you may feel a little uncomfortable. The reason for the medical examination is to try and gather any evidence in case you decide to report it to the police and a criminal investigation is started. If you decide that you want to talk to the police they will arrange a time for you to come and talk with them, the interview can be held at The Gatehouse, a police station or hospital.
More than likely the police will want to record the statement; this is because they want to limit the number if times you have to tell your story and the amount of different people to have to talk to. The only times they may not record is if recording was part of the abuse or after explaining the reasons why, you still don’t feel comfortable with it. The officers that would be interviewing you are specially trained to deal with disclosure of abuse and will believe you and want to help you as much as they can during this very difficult time. They may ask you if you want a support person with you in the interview. Sometimes this can be a help but for others it may be not want they want. You will have to talk about intimate things that have happened to you so you may not want another person in the room with you. If you do decide you want someone in the interview with you they would have to sit behind you so as not to interfere with the actual interview.
The investigation process can seem like it is taking a long time but there is a lot of work and interviewing that needs to be carried out. The police decide once they have gathered all the evidence and spoke to all the people they need to if there will be criminal case. If there is, support services are in place to assist you and your family through the process such as court preparation support services. If you are under the age of 16 years old, Children’s Aid workers may also be involved throughout the process – their job is to make sure that you are safe and supported all the way through the investigation and they too can help you with support services.
You may be feeling as though you should have said ‘no’ or tried harder to stop this from happening?
Being abused is never your fault – you must never blame yourself. This was done by someone who was probably older, bigger or stronger than you. This may have happened to you by someone you may love, trust and/or respect, making it even harder to believe what has or is happening to you. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t always guarantee that the abuse will stop.
Am I a bad person?
NO. This was not your fault, it did not happen because of something you said or did. The abuser is always to blame. They are the adult or older youth and they know what they are doing is wrong that is why they made you keep it a ‘secret’ from everybody else.
They said something bad would happen to people you love if you told anybody.
This is said to frighten you and keep the ‘secret’ so that they don’t get into trouble. The only way the abuse will stop is by you reaching out and telling somebody what is happening to you.
What will happen to this person?
Once you tell somebody what is happening there will be lots of different people involved with deciding what will happen to this person. That is not your responsibility – you have to look after yourself. Everybody involved wants to keep you safe – that will be the priority. Whatever the final outcome for this person, it is not your fault.
Does being abused make me gay?
NO. Being abused by a same sex abuser does not make you gay. The physical reaction you may have experienced during the abuse is your body’s way of reacting to the stimulus and was beyond your control.
Will I become an abuser too?
Many people who have been abused are fearful of this – there is no evidence to support the rumours of the ‘cycle of abuse’ we hear about. In fact you may find that you become more sensitive to others having experienced first hand the effects abuse has on a person.
A healthy relationship allows you to feel and have:
- Positive Self Esteem
- Open communication
- Individual interests and well as combined
- You can say NO to something you don’t want to do or if anything makes you feel uncomfortable or scared
Before you can feel good in a relationship, you must feel good about yourself by:
- Accepting yourself as you are, no one is perfect
- Knowing what your strengths are
- Taking control of your life
- Having a positive attitude
- Feeling good about the decisions you make
For a relationship to last and grow there must be open communication between you and your partner.
You both must feel you can:
- Be honest
- Talk openly about your feelings
- Take responsibility for your feelings, thought and actions
- Work at resolving any problems or disagreements
- Listen to your partner – remember you won’t always agree on everything but what you can do is respect and value other beliefs and opinions
If you feel the relationship may become intimate make sure you both are ready to take this step. Do not begin a sexual relationship if you feel it is too soon, you should both feel comfortable taking this next step together. Sex should be a guilt free step you both choose to take in your relationship. Take time to discuss it.
What’s an Unhealthy Relationship?
A relationship is unhealthy when:
- You feel isolated and alone
- You feel threatened, embarrassed or humiliated
- You are lied to by your partner
- You are hurt physically/sexually
- Your partner is controlling and dominating
- Your partner is jealous and possessive
- You receive no respect from your partner
- You endure constant criticism
Some people live in homes where this behavior is viewed as being normal. It’s not. Ending a relationship is a hard and stressful time for both of you. Remember though, that every relationship teaches you something and helps you grow as an individual.
If you decide to end a relationship:
- Choose a safe location to break up
- Be prepared for uncomfortable feelings but be clear, honest and compassionate
- Avoid blaming
- Be respectful
- Be Firm. Make the end Final
If you are in an unhealthy relationship GET HELP! Talk to an adult you trust - a teacher, counsellor, parent. Call and talk to somebody at Kids Help Phone at 1-888-668-6868. In an emergency call 911.
Teen Dating Abuse
Teen dating abuse is about the controlling pattern of behavior that is carried out between a boyfriend and girlfriend. Abuse does not have to be just physical it can be emotional, sexual and verbal, financial and social.
This can include but is not limited to:
- Isolation from family and friends
- Feeling threatened
- Feeling embarrassed or humiliated
- Being lied to by your partner
- Being hurt physically/sexually
- Being controlling and dominated
- Your partner is jealous and possessive
- You receive no respect from your partner
- Your partner threatens to kill themselves if you leave them
- Controlling the finances
- Gift giving in return for something or giving gifts as an apology for abusive behaviour
- Constant monitoring of your actions and whereabouts
Things you can do to prevent dating abuse and promote healthy relationships:
- Practice and model respectful problem solving skills in your relationship
- Educate yourself on dating abuse
- Hold your partner accountable for their behaviour – focus on the behaviour rather than the person
- Reach out and ask for help if you find you are in an abusive relationship – leaving an abusive partner can be a very dangerous thing to do so having another person to support you is essential
- Speak out about dating violence if you can – either through your school, college, community etc.