Background Data shows adolescents have the highest rate of sexual assault. Adolescents who were raped during childhood show a relation with risky behaviours such as being sexually active at a younger age and poor use of contraception. Furthermore, they have a greater number of pregnancies and abortions, are at higher risk for HIV and STI’s, higher rates of depression and suicidal thoughts and attempts, self-mutilation, eating disorders and obesity (Crawford-Jakubiak, Alderman & Leventhal, 2017; Fier, 2017; Brabant, Hébert & Chagnon, 2013; Keeshin et al., 2013).
Adolescents appear to have special needs when it comes to sexual health care services (Kulyk et al., 2013). Even though the emotional, physical, and social consequences of sexual assault are similar to those of adults, ‘adolescents have less life experience and emotional fortitude to handle the trauma’ (Bein, 2011) associated with sexual assault. Even so, they have proved hard to reach by health and support services.
A review of the literature shows few studies actually focus on adolescents’ experiences and needs after sexual assault. The current study is part of a larger (doctoral) study into teens’ experiences with sexual assault support services in co-operation with Umbrella Clinics.
Methods This study’s objective was to explore teens’ experiences following sexual assault by systematically reviewing and synthesizing published qualitative studies in this area. A narrative review of literature has been undertaken in order to identify publications that explore teens’ experiences following sexual assault. Only studies focussed on teen participants (13–19 years old), as opposed to retrospective accounts from adults, were included.
Results Important themes such as help-seeking behaviours, barriers, disclosure, the role of peers, importance of language, coping and gender emerged.
Conclusion This study identifies the complex nature of sexual assault specifically in combination with adolescence. Findings identify issues for service improvement and a significant need for research inclusive of adolescents’ narratives.
Disclosure No significant relationships.
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