Need Help Now? A Guide to Scarleteen's Direct Services
We have four free, direct support services so you can get one-on-one help if you can't find what you need on the website, if you you need or want more information, if you need help understanding something you've read here, or when you want support, help, advice or discussion from our staff, volunteers or peer community.
- Our message boards (you'll need to register if you're not already registered for the boards; you can do that here)
- Our SMS (text) service: you can text us at (206) 866-2279. The SMS service is free, but message and data rates apply, just like with any texts you send or receive to or from anyone. Per mobile restrictions, the SMS service is only available for users in the United States.
- Our online chat (does not require registration): During chat times or with appointments (see below), click the link to the left.
- The advice column queue (does not require registration)
Not sure which is right for you?
The message boards:
The message boards can fit nearly every bill. You can ask simple questions and have them answered quickly, or can have ongoing discussions over time -- be that hours, days, weeks or even months -- either with staff and volunteers, peer users, or both. Longer or more complex topics are best for the message boards rather than for our chat or text services. Message board posts are public, so if you're not comfortable having your questions or conversations be seen and kept public, even when your name and no identifying information is in them, you should not post on the boards.
Our boards are strongly moderated by staff and volunteers, but our community is truly so excellent that more times than not, there's little for us to moderate because our users are so great to one another, all by themselves. The boards are an anonymous service so long as you follow our guidelines about privacy, like picking a username you do not use anywhere else and does not personally identify you in any way, and do not post any personally identifying information.
Use for: Almost anything, be it simple questions or in-depth, involved discussions over time. This service is also best for when you want both staff and volunteer engagement AND discussion with peers, or primarily peer-to-peer discussion.
How fast will you be answered? Anywhere from a few minutes to within 24 hours. If you're a brand new user, your posts will not show up immediately on the boards: they go to a moderation queue staff review for a little bit first, so we can better screen for trolls or spammers.
Hablamos español: Tenemos voluntarios disponibles para los usuarios de habla hispana.
The SMS service:
The SMS (text) service is a question and answer service available for those with mobile phones and the capacity to send and receive text messages. You may text a question to (206) 866-2279: it will be answered, and only seen, by our staff or volunteers. There is no cost for this beyond what your mobile provider charges you when sending or receiving any text message or data. Due to mobile provider restrictions, our mobile service can only be used by those within the United States at this time.
Use for: Help finding content on the site to answer your questions, referrals for in-person local services like sexual or mental healthcare, or a referral to our message boards or live chat when you can't figure out which service is best for you. The SMS service is not intended for answers that can be found in our site content, or can be answered or discussed on the boards or via the live chat service.
How fast will you be answered? Within a few hours to 24 hours.
Hablamos español: Tenemos voluntarios disponibles para los usuarios de habla hispana.
The chat service:
A real-time popup chat window, staffed and seen only by you and our staff and volunteers. It works like an IM conversation or Facebook chat.
- Monday: 10 AM - 1PM PST
- *STARTING 9/26/23* Tuesday: 12 PM - 5:00 PM PST
- Friday: 8:30 - 11:30 AM PST
- Saturday: 8 - 10 AM PST
If you want a chat at a time it isn't scheduled, you can always come to the message boards and see if any staff are available and ask. We're currently in the midst of making some changes to our schedule, so the current schedule should be considered temporary. You may also sometimes see the available chat icon -- a red S in a small yellow circle floating over the lower left of every site page -- outside of chat hours if and when staff are available for chat at times other than our set hours, and are welcome to come into chat anytime you see that icon.
FYI: Our message boards, chat and text service all self-create digital records of their use that we retain as an organization for legal and administrative reasons, to help best serve our ongoing users, and to help our staff do our best work. On the message boards, anything posted by a user is something public others can see, though anything identifying about you, like your IP address, or the email you registered with, for example, is only available to staff. With chat and our text service, the only people able to see any of your use history as well as any identifying information are our staff.
The advice columns:
The index of the advice columns is here, to give you a sense of the kind of engaged, professional and in-depth answers it provides.
Best for: More involved, complex situations where you want a longer, in-depth answer, but can wait days, weeks or even months for your answer. Questions and situations which are NOT time-sensitive (like pregnancy risks or scares, current health problems, or help you need to find as soon as possible). Questions and answers you are comfortable having published widely for all to see (even though they should not ever contain any identifying information where anyone reading could know it was you asking).
How fast will you be answered? As noted on the input form, most advice questions will never be answered, particularly if we've already written a column that has already answered a question. Otherwise, the wait can be anywhere from a day or two to several months. The advice column is intended for longer, in-depth answers to issues that are not particularly time sensitive or immediate. It is acceptable to leave your question in the queue, but then also bring to another of our direct services for a more immediate and guaranteed answer.
All of Scarleteen and its services are intended to expressly provide information, education and support within the scope of sex and sexuality, sexual health and relationships.
That means things like:
- sexual anatomy, body changes and body image
- partnered sex and masturbation
- sexual response and pleasure (or lack thereof)
- sexual health issues such as STIs/STDs, contraception (birth control), abortion, finding sexual healthcare, and sex safety
- sexual and gender orientation or identity, including LGBTQA information and support
- relationships: dating, relationship models, casual sex, negotiation, communication and agreements; managing conflict, breakups, choices; managing sexuality where it intersects with non-sexual friendships or family
- consent and sexual communication
- preventing, identifying and surviving sexual abuse, assault or harassment
- sexual ethics, activism and politics
What CAN'T Scarleteen's direct services help you with? (And where can you get help?)
- Scarleteen staff can and will no longer answer or engage with ANY questions or discussions stemming from or about pregnancy fear or anxiety with people who are not pregnant or who are not or have not been otherwise directly involved with an actual pregnancy. For more on this recent policy change, what we CAN help with, and links to help with issues usually at the root of these fears, including anxiety and other mental health issues, click here.
- Medical emergencies or a medical evaluation, treatment or advice, such as a suspected or ongoing infection, chronic pain condition or a sexuality issue, concern or problem that has come up related to or deeply impacted by a health condition where only someone very educated in your condition can consult. For help with those, see: An in-person healthcare provider via a clinic, hospital, or private practice. If you need help finding or accessing one, call your insurance provider if you are insured, or contact your state, country, provincial or city public health or social services office. Scarleteen can often provide support and additional information once you get a diagnosis and treatment, but we cannot diagnose any user nor provide or advise about treatment for any medical conditions. For online information about overall health or specific conditions, we suggest the Mayo Clinic, the NHS, or the World Health Organization.
- Ongoing mental health issues or conditions like anxiety disorders, clinical depression, bipolar disorder or persistent phobias, or users stating they are at risk of harming themselves in any way. For help with those, see: A mental or general healthcare provider. For extra online support or information, you can check out the National Institute of Health, Mental Health, here, or Mental Health @ NHS Choices here. If you feel at risk of self-harm or suicide, calling 911 or a suicide hotline is the right next step.
- Those trying to conceive (trying to intentionally become pregnant). For help with that, see: An obstetrician/gynecologist, midwife, doula, other fertility/pregnancy educator, or a general healthcare provider. For online help and information, you can check out: Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
- Ongoing, persistent relationship conflicts which have not been resolved over time and/or with help and coaching already provided by us via our direct services. For help with those, see: Your partner. And yourself. Then your partner again. Then yourself. (AKA: communicate with each other and then make some decisions, y'all.) Or, you and your partner may need to consult with an in-person counselor, mediator or therapist.
- Abusive or dysfunctional family or partner situations where you are in immediate danger and need help, including active incest. For help with those, see or contact: A domestic or interpersonal violence shelter, and/or your local social services department or agency, or crisis care expressly equipped to help with interfamilial and domestic abuse. You may also call the police, or go to any hospital emergency room and ask for help. We can help with support around these issues once you are out of immediate danger, however, and/or help you find the appropriate help to get safe if you cannot find those shelters or services on your own.
- Legal advice. For legal help, see: A lawyer or contact your local legal aid service. Looking for age of consent laws and policies? Check out: Worldwide Ages of Consent @ Avert.
- Help or counseling for those who are currently perpetrating or have perpetrated emotional, physical or sexual abuse or assault. For help with that, see: A mental healthcare provider, such as a therapist or counselor. You can call local community centers or hospitals and ask about any available violence intervention programs which may be local to you. If you self-report any abuse or assault you have perpetrated to the police, you may also ask for counseling resources when you do. In the UK, this hotline is available for help for abusers. A similar service is available in the United States via the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- Uterine scrying or other psychic services (in other words, "When will my period come?" "Am I pregnant?" "What is my boyfriend/girlfriend thinking?" For help with those, see: Waiting, in the case of waiting for a period. Or a home or clinical pregnancy test, to find out if you are pregnant. Or, your boyfriend or girlfriend, to find out what they are thinking, feeling or wanting, by asking them those things.
- Issues exclusive to, or those which predominantly impact, those over 30, such as sex in long-term marriages, sex and aging, or post-menopausal issues. For help with those, see: Your general or sexual healthcare provider, your local library or bookstore, or a sex-positive sex toy store. For extra online support, you can check out sex-positive stores which include educational content or assistance, like Good Vibrations, Babeland or Early 2 Bed; or adult sexuality education; or research centers like SHIP or the Kinsey Institute. For those seeking help with sex and sexuality issues over 50, see the AARP's excellent sexuality section.
- Any issues you may have at other websites, such as bullying or harassment, issues of differing information, lack of service, etc. For help with those, see: Those other websites. Look for a contact form at the website to contact an administrator, owner or moderator.