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For Teens and Tweens

Abuse does not have to define who you are or who you will become. We are here to help.

What to Look for

No one sign or symptom is the deciding factor of how to know if someone has been abused. Often, the first indicator is when a person discloses abuse. However, some people who are abused may have changes in their behaviors and/or emotions. For example, a normally talkative person may now be withdrawn or a typically shy person may have new fears that emerge.

If you notice changes in a friend, ask them how they are doing and listen. Let them know they can always come to you. Keep in mind that if you have been abused, other people are not likely to know unless you say something. If you need advice, always talk with a trusted adult.

Studies show that youth who have been abused are at higher risk for emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts as well as health problems including high blood pressure, asthma, and obesity. Addressing trauma symptoms related to the abuse now can make the difference in them putting the abuse behind them.

Preventing Abuse

Prevention efforts do keep abuse from happening to many children, and you'll need the right tools to keep children safe.

How We Can Help You

What Happens when you come to Dee Norton?

At the first moment of concern, you have a safe, friendly place to turn for help. You can get advice by calling us at (843) 723-3600.

  • At Dee Norton, people receive different services based on their situation. Our intake staff will work with your caregivers and other adults to decide which services are the best fit.
  • Your first appointment will likely include a "forensic interview." You will sit with a specially-trained interviewer, whose job is to give people the space to talk about things that might have happened to them. The most important part of their job is to listen non-judgmentally and gather as much information as possible about what happened to you to help keep you safe.
  • You may receive a medical examination at the Center by a child abuse specialist from the Medical University of South Carolina. A head-to-toe physical examination helps to assure that your body is normal and healthy. The examination may include photographs and testing for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Your medical provider will talk with you every step of the way. You can choose to accept or decline any recommended medical care.
  • A mental health assessment may be needed. This assessment gives you space to talk about how you're thinking, how you’re feeling, and how your experiences may have impacted your life. A therapist will have this conversation with you and your caregiver, both separately and together, and you'll both complete some questionnaires. They'll also talk with you about what you think you need to be able to move forward.
  • After the mental health assessment, the therapist may make a recommendation for therapy or other services that can help you move forward.
  • There is a team of people from different organizations who are working together to make sure you and your family are going to be okay. This might include your school, a detective, a DSS worker, your doctor, your therapist, your forensic interviewer, or others. Part of Dee Norton's role is to coordinate with your team about what you and your family need and how to best meet those needs. Every week we get the team together during a Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting to ensure we're all doing our part to meet your needs. Your therapist, interviewer, or advocate will talk to you and your caregiver about who will be in attendance at your team's meetings and what information will be shared.
  • Have other questions? You can always call us at (843) 723-3600 and ask to speak to an advocate or therapist.

What happens when you come to therapy?

A therapist is someone whose job is to listen and support you without judgment. Our therapists have special training in helping people feel better and get back in the driver's seat of their life after experiencing something potentially traumatic, like abuse or assault. These experiences can cause our brains and bodies to react in ways that might make us feel depressed, isolated, angry, or out of control. A therapist is someone who will work with you to help you get a handle on these reactions so that your trauma doesn't define your life and you can get back to living it.

There are a lot of different kinds of therapy, so the first step is to meet with a therapist for a mental health assessment. This means that a therapist will talk to you and your caregiver, both separately and together, about what you think you might need to feel better. You'll complete some questionnaires about how you've been thinking, feeling, and acting lately and the therapist will then help you find the right kind of therapy with someone likely to be a good fit for you.

Types of Abuse

  • Sexual Abuse

    Child sexual abuse is any interaction between a child and an adult (or older child) where the child is used for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator or an observer. Sexual abuse can include both touching and non-touching behaviors. Non-touching behaviors can include voyeurism (trying to look at a child’s naked body), exhibitionism, or exposing the child to pornography. Children of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, and economic backgrounds may experience sexual abuse.

  • Physical Abuse

    Physical abuse is one of the most common forms of child maltreatment. While legal definitions vary, physical abuse, broadly, occurs when a parent or caregiver commits an act that results in physical injury to a child or teen. Sometimes it happens even when parents did not intend to cause an injury. Physical abuse may include hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating, burning, or otherwise harming a child.

  • Emotional Abuse

    Emotional abuse includes acts or the failures to act by parents or caretakers that cause, or could cause, serious behavioral, intellectual, or, emotional disorders.

  • Domestic Violence

    Exposure to interpersonal violence between adults can be harmful to children. It can include witnessing or simply being aware of violence between adults. While domestic violence often occurs as a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior, an initial incident may also be cause for concern. Tactics used in domestic violence can be physical, sexual, financial, verbal, or emotional against the partner. Exposure to substance abuse by parents and other caregivers can also have negative effects on the health, safety, and well-being of children.

  • Neglect

    Although not discussed as often as other forms, neglect is the most common form of child abuse. Whereas other forms of abuse occur when something negative happens to a child, neglect is when a child’s basic needs for food, housing, health care, and warm clothing are not met.

  • Bullying

    Bullying is a form of peer victimization when one person deliberately and repeatedly intimidates or harms another. Bullying can severely affect a child’s or teen's self-image, social interactions, and school performance, and can lead to mental health problems.

How to Report

If you live in South Carolina and suspect abuse by a family member who has responsibility for taking care of the child, contact the South Carolina Child Abuse Hotline at (888) CARE4US® / (888) 227-3487.

If you live in the Lowcountry area and need assistance with this process, call us at (843) 723-3600.

If you live outside of South Carolina and need help, call National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 4ACHILD® / (800) 422-4453.

If you suspect abuse by someone who does not have caregiver responsible for the child, contact your local law enforcement jurisdiction:

Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office
(843) 719-4465 (Moncks Corner)
(843) 723-3800 ext. 4465 (Charleston)
(843) 567-3136 ext. 4465 (St. Stephen)

Charleston Police Department (843) 577-7434

Charleston Consolidated Dispatch (843)-743-7200

Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (843) 202-1700

Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office
(843) 202-1700 (before 5pm) | (843) 873-5111 (after 5pm)

Folly Beach Police Department (843) 588-2433

Goose Creek Police Department (843) 572-4300

Hanahan Police Department (843) 873-5111

Isle of Palms Police Department (843) 886-6522

Moncks Corner Police Department (843) 719-7935

Mount Pleasant Police Department (843) 884-4176

North Charleston Police Department (843)-740-2800

Sullivan’s Island Police Department (843) 871-2463

Summerville Police Department (843) 875-1650

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Explore Our Services

Child abuse does not have to define who a child will become. At the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, children and families have a safe, child-friendly place they can come to where there is concern about abuse.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding child abuse helps you be in a better position to both prevent abuse and know how to respond if abuse occurs. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about abuse.

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