I think my best friend is being sexually abused by her mom’s boyfriend…

I think my best friend is being sexually abused by her mom’s boyfriend…..It hurts me to see her hurting and I know she is. I just wish she would talk to me and get help.

You are a true friend for trying to get your friend help when she is having a hard time doing the same for herself.

People who are being abused often have a hard time getting help for themselves. It’s a very confusing thing to have someone like a step-parent take advantageof you. They can feel guilty, ashamed, and afraid of what would happen if they do tell someone.

Because we don’t know for sure what’s going on with your friend, I’m going to give you some warning signs to watch out for. Though, this doesn’t alwaysmean someone is being sexually abused. I do want to be very clear and say that you’re doing the right thing by following your intuition. Never discountwhat your gut is telling you. I’m proud of you for writing in.

Before I list some warning signs, I want to mention that because every person handles things differently, the same will go for ‘warning signs’: one person’sresponse to a traumatic event will look different than the next persons.

Here are some red flags to look out for, especially if your friend is showing several of these:

  • Withdrawal from friends, sports, or school
  • Changes in behavior — such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity — or changes in school performance
  • Depression, anxiety or unusual fears
  • Frequent absences from school
  • If she doesn’t want to go home
  • Attempts at running away
  • Attempts at suicide
  • Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, fractures or burns
  • Trouble walking or sitting
  • Headaches or stomachaches with no medical cause
  • Desperately seeks affection

What to do next:

1. Talk to your friend. You did the right thing by telling your friend that you’re there if she needs you, but nowyou need to be more specific. You can say something like, “You’re my best friend and I care about you. I’ve noticed that you’ve been acting different whenyou’re around your mom’s boyfriend and you never let me hug you. Is he hurting you?” If your friend does admits that something is going on, support herby telling her none of it was her fault. You can also let her know you can help her to talk to a trusted adult so that the abuse stops.

2. Talk to a trusted adult. However the conversation goes with your friend; if she confesses to the abuse, or she denies it,but she’s doing other things that concern you, or she’s saying things that make you feel like she’s trying to tell you something but might be afraid, askfor help from an adult you trust. Someone like a family member, teacher, nurse, or counselor are good people to talk to. And, many people who work at theschool are trained in how to recognize and report abuse.

Just so you’re aware, if you talk to someone who works at the school, or clinic, they are what’s called ‘mandatory reporters of abuse,’ meaning that ifsomeone tells them they are being abused, or know of someone who is, they have to legally report it.

3. Get Help!

  • If you need immediate assistance call 911!
  • Local tribal clinic
  • Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 4-A-CHILD, or (800-422-4453) is 24-hours

Thank you for reaching out, your friend is lucky to have someone who cares so much about them. I’m sending you good thoughts and prayers.

Auntie Manda

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