Detecting and Helping Teenage Victims of Abuse featuring Ellen Garland

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Physical and sexual abuse is a horrible reality for many young people, including teenagers in church youth groups. Ellen Garland shares some warning signs that will help us detect these problems, and she suggests steps for youth leaders to offer love and help to victims of abuse.

Ellen has a passion for young women to grasp a living God. She served as the Dean of Women at the Word of Life Bible Institute for five years where she used her heart for one-on-one mentoring and teaching Biblical principles.

First, watch Beth tell her story of suffering abuse and the long period of keeping it a secret.

Victims of abuse rarely come right our and reveal the event. Loving friendship and a safe environment go a long way toward helping students like Beth ask for the help they need. Now listen as Ellen shares some more practical things we can do to help.

Adult leaders who work with youth need to keep their antennas up. Look for drastic changes or odd behaviors with kids. They can exhibit these behaviors socially, personally, and relationally. The following list is a sample of things to look for.
  • jittery or nervous
  • disconnected
  • aggression
  • sudden dramatic changes in personality or demeanor
  • fearfulness
  • major changes in grades
  • unexplainable bruises or poor hygiene
  • odd sexual knowledge for their age
  • remarks about running away or uncaring of parents

Have you noticed this kind of behavior in any of our students? Without using the name here, what has grabbed your attention? When can we meet to discuss this student and issue?
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As a leader who notices these things, remember to keep your head, keep your heart, and keep your shoulders.
  • ask the right questions
  • start broadly and then work down to specifics
  • don't gasp and act horrified, but show understanding
  • show them your heart - let them see how much you care
  • talk to another trusted adult

How can you approach the concern with a student without creating a detrimental conversation that damages trust?
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How can you discuss this with another adult so that it helps you help the student and does not enter into gossip? Who will you go to if you suspect abuse against a girl? Against a guy?
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When you enter into the healing process with a victim, love them well. Remember that you are trying to help him or her know the truth, get past the fear and regain their trust in people and in Christ.

For more RightNow Media training posts and teaching videos with Ellen Garland, click here.

Ellen suggested Where Was God When ...? You can find the eight-week series in your RightNow Media Bible Study Library. Click here for a direct link.