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A Typological Analysis of Help-Seeking Profiles in Youth and Associations with Victimization

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Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The need for autonomy and independence in adolescence is so fundamental that it can be difficult for youth to seek help when they experience difficulties. To date, few studies have documented profiles of help-seeking behavior according to victimization, gender, and perceived social support among adolescents and emerging adults. The aims of the study were to: (1) identify distinct help-seeking profiles according to gender, victimization experiences and perceived social support, and (2) illustrate the distinct profiles in light of the help-seeking experiences of participants. A total of 397 youth aged 14 to 25 years old completed a questionnaire; a subsample of 100 youth also participate in an individual semi-structured interview. Questions on dating violence and a history of child sexual abuse, help-seeking strategies, and perceived social support were administered. A significant proportion of respondents experienced child sexual abuse and reported dating violence experiences. Four clusters highlighting the diversity of help-seeking profiles among youth were identified: (1) Friend-oriented help-seekers; (2) Proactive help-seekers; (3) Formal help seekers; (4) Self-reliant youth. The results suggest that youth are more likely to rely on their friends for help and less likely to seek help from formal resources. Girls are more proactive than boys in help-seeking. Youth victims of psychological and physical dating violence are more likely to be classified in the self-reliant group while youth with a history of child sexual abuse were found in greater proportion in the friend-oriented group. Results underscore that perceived social support is associated with help-seeking behavior, and highlight the importance of addressing the reluctance of youth to reach for informal help, especially in youth who experienced dating violence. This study also underlines the relevance of bystander interventions to support youth who experienced dating violence or child sexual abuse.

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The authors wish to thank adolescents and emerging adults who participated to this project and the community organizations partners.


This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (#435-2013-1683) awarded to Mylène Fernet.

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Correspondence to Mylène Fernet.

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The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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Fernet, M., Hébert, M., Brodeur, G. et al. A Typological Analysis of Help-Seeking Profiles in Youth and Associations with Victimization. Journ Child Adol Trauma 15, 1127–1136 (2022).

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