Sexual exploitation

Some people form relationships with young people to use them for sex.

People who do this want young people to think they are a friend, or a boyfriend or girlfriend. They want to gain their trust to get power over them.

They might seem really kind to start with and give them gifts or treats. They might also use bribes, threats, humiliation and even violence to get power over them.

They use that power to force them to have sex, or do sexual things, with them and sometimes with other people.

This is sexual exploitation and it’s a crime.

Who does this happen to?

Sexual exploitation or abuse in a relationship can happen to boys and girls.

It can be really hard to spot abusive behaviour and sexual exploitation as people often think that they’re in a good relationship, even after things have turned bad.

If you are a victim of abuse in a relationship or sexual exploitation it is NEVER your fault.

The good news is that you can get help. You can speak to a trusted adult – a parent, teacher or carer and tell them what’s happening to you.

Or you can call or text this free number for help and advice: 116 000.

You can also follow one of the links at the bottom of this page for help and guidance.

5 signs to look out for:

It can be really hard to spot when someone is abusing or exploiting a relationship. Some possible signs that they’re not all they seem:

  1. To get to know you they give you lots of attention
    We all like attention and it’s nice to feel wanted.  But if someone tries to get to know you by giving you lots of attention, ask yourself – what do they really want?
  2. They give you gifts, like phone credit, alcohol or jewellery
    This can be exciting and make you feel good about someone but, if they want sex in return, they are trying to exploit you.
  3. They try to isolate you from your friends or family
    They will say that they are the only person you need and tell you that your friends or family won’t understand or you’ll be in trouble. Remember, the people who care about you will want to protect you.
  4. They have mood swings
    If someone flips between being ‘very nice’ and ‘very nasty’, you can feel like you need to do things to keep them happy.  This can be a sign they are trying to control you.
  5. They make promises or threats
    Abusers and exploiters use many tricks to control young people.  They may make promises they don’t always keep.

How to stay safe

  • Trust yourself to know when something is wrong
    If someone makes you feel unsafe, pressured or frightened, follow your instincts and get help.
  • Consider whether you can trust people you don’t know
    Event if they seem friendly, exciting or offer you gifts.  Ask yourself – why are they being nice and doing me favours?  What do they want in return?
  • You don’t have to do things that you think are unsafe
    If you feel nervous about doing something seek help from someone you trust.
  • You should never feel you have to have sex
  • Know where to get help
    Keep contact details of an adult you trust with you, written down and on your phone. Keep your phone topped up with credit.
  • Remember if in immediate danger phone 999, you do not need credit on your phone to do this.

Content uploaded: 23/03/2016 17:04 | Modified: 25/01/2022 17:13