Awareness: Teen Sexual Abuse and Assault

It is not a joke. It is real and it has probably happened to you or someone you know.


Depiction of sexual abuse by Hanna Barczyk

I got the opportunity to talk with Maisie Cochran, a junior at AMHS. She has recently started an Instagram page for awareness on teen sexual abuse and assault. I asked her some questions and got to know why she started the page. She had so many great things to say and she inspired me with her resolve and her perseverance. There is so much to be said that someone of her age is already working hard to create change. She is someone who wants to make a world where experiencing sexual abuse is not something to be ashamed of, but a sign of strength and an ability to overcome something that many are too weak to even imagine. She is an amazing person with bright ideas and she will be going far in life. Please follow her page @teens.beingaware to see how she is making people more aware. 


What brought on your passion for bringing awareness to teen sexual abuse and assault?

Besides myself I know a lot of people that have gone through similar things and no one really talks about it. I’ve also heard so many people at school make jokes about rape and sexual assault and I just think it is ridiculous how normalized it has become and how many people think that it is okay to joke about and belittle assault when it is something that changes your life completely. 

Apart from spreading awareness, what are your goals for this page?

I’ve already reached out to People Against Rape, which is an organization for victims of sexual abuse based in Charleston for volunteer opportunities that I want to be a part of. I also really wanted to have a food/bake drive of some kind, but I won’t be able to do anything until the quarantine is lifted. It is okay though, because it gives me good time to plan.

From what sources do you get the information for your posts? 

Well I guess Seminar has taught me to find credible sources that really talk about a lot of different information. I try to find multiple sources so that the people looking at my page will get a lot of information that you can trust and not think, “Oh she is making things up.”

From what I understand you are also open to talking to anyone who needs help whether it be in person or over the phone. Is that correct?


There are studies showing that men are less likely than women to step forward if they have been abused. Do you believe that toxic masculinity and societal pressure for men to be strong and not show vulnerability are the cause? 

Yeah I definitely think there’s a stigma that men aren’t allowed to show emotions and have to constantly seem strong and emotionless in a sense, which I feel as if would keep them from coming forward. There’s also lots of research that shows how people are less inclined to believe male victims because there are people who don’t believe that men could be a victim of abuse. To give a modern example, Johnny Depp and his ex wife, Amber Heard, have been all over the media recently as allegations have come out proving that he was actually the victim of abuse instead of her. For a long time, people assumed he abused her, which had an effect on how people saw him and his roles in entertainment; however, it wasn’t proven until a lot later that he was actually the one getting abused by her. I think it shouldn’t matter your gender or who you identify as because, no matter who you are, you can get abused and mistreated and people should always support and believe others when they come forward no matter what.

Is this something short-term for you? Or are you hoping to continue this and maybe start a program in the future? And if it is something you want to continue, are you looking for help with it?

Well I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while now and am glad I finally started it, so I definitely want to continue it into the future. I just don’t exactly know what yet, but I thought the account could be a first step. I am definitely looking for people to help and I’ve already received dm’s from people telling me they’d love to help any way they can and I’m really looking forward to it after quarantine ends.

Lastly, what advice or support would you want to give to anyone reading this article who is suffering in silence from abuse?

What people need to realize is that you’re never alone and there are, unfortunately, so many other people who have gone through the same or similar things. If you sit and wait in silence, it will ultimately be more damaging to you in the long run. I think it’s so important for people to know that you MUST come to someone even if it’s just one person. People need support because getting out of an abusive situation is so so difficult to do on your own, but if you have other people to help you and reassure you that it isn’t your fault and you can get through it makes it a lot easier. I’m not saying it’s easy because it’s really not, but it will make you into a stronger person. No one should have to go through any kind of abuse alone so please reach out any way you can.


Once again follow Maisie’s page @teens.beingaware to learn more and to help her in continuing to spread awareness. If you have been sexually assaulted or abused know that you are not just a victim. You are more than a label. You are a person who has gone through something most people are too afraid to even think about. You are strong and you will overcome. 


If you need help or have been abused please confide in someone. If you are not comfortable confiding in someone you know you can go to The National Resource for Sexual Assault Survivors and their Loved Ones for help. They have people you can talk to you and resources if you are looking for more information and ways to spot signs of sexual abuse.