Sexual Exploitation - How Much do you Know?
Sexual exploitation can be hard to recognise because you often believe you're in a good relationship with the person - or people - who want to abuse your trust in them.
It could be a friend , or a group of friends. It could be someone you think of as a boyfriend or girlfriend. It could be a person or a new group of people you've only just got to know. it could be someone you've talked to online.
But whoever it is, they could use clever ways to take advantage of your relationship - and that means you can be harmed almost before you know what's going on. For example, someone might give you money, drugs, alcohol or gifts or somewhere to stay and then force you to do one of more of these things in return:
- Have sex with them
- Do something sexual to them
- Be touched inappropriately, in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable
- Look at sexual images - including films or pictures
- Watch them do something sexual, including having sex or touching themselves sexually.
You can be sexually exploited in other ways, without anyone actually touching you, this could involve being persuaded or forced to make sexual videos of yourself or with other young people, or posting sexual images on the internet, or it might be that someone shares sexual images via the internet or mobile phone with you.
Sexual exploitation can happen to boys and young men as well as girls and young women. It can happen to anyone and people who exploit you can be any age, male or female.
That's why it's so important to look out for the warning signs that someone's behaviour towards you may not be all it seems.
If what your are being asked or forced to do makes you feel uncomfortable or worried in some way and somehow feels wrong them remember it probably is.
Being in a relationship and thinking about having a sexual relationship is normal, but sexual exploitation is not normal and is a form of abuse.
If you are worried for yourself or a friend, please talk to an adult you can trust. Remember: if you are in any danger or feel unsafe, get in contact with the police immediately on 999.
If you would like to talk to someone in confidence you can contact:
Childline - you can call them free on 0800 1111 and this number won't appear on a telephone bill. It is available 24 hours a day.
You can find out more about sexual exploitation from the Barnardos website and leaflet by following the links below.