Am I being sexually exploited?

You may be being sexually exploited if someone is taking advantage of your relationship and forcing you to do things of a sexual nature that you'd rather not do.  If you are experiencing feelings of being trapped, isolated and scared, these are warning signs.  

It does not matter how long you have known the person that is exploiting you:

You may have only just met the person or have been in a relationship for a long time.

You may know them in person, or online. In fact, you may never have met them at all.

They may have spent a long time getting to know you and winning your trust - this is called grooming.

They may have got to know your family or be a member of a gang that you feel part of.  

The person may be asking you to keep secrets and to spend time alone with them.

The person may be a friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend or someone who is older than you.

Although you trusted them at first and they made you feel special by giving you things, like money, gifts, alcohol, drugs or somewhere to stay, you are now being forced to do things in return.

The things you may be being forced to do:

  • Having sex with them.
  • Doing something sexual to them.
  • Being touched inappropriately, in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Looking at sexual images – including films or pictures.
  • Being asked to take explicit pictures of yourself or being filmed doing sexual acts
  • Watching them do something sexual, including having sex or touching themselves sexually.
  • Encouraging or forcing you to groom other young people to become involved in illegal activity.

The person exploiting you may also be trying to control you and exerting their power over you by isolating you from friends and family and people who care for you

They could also be threatening you, blackmailing you and becoming violent if you don’t do what they want. 

Who can be sexually exploited? 

Sexual exploitation is a crime that can happen to anyone from all ethnicities, backgrounds and communities in the UK.

What can I do?

You may feel that you don’t want to tell anyone because you feel ashamed or guilty about what is happening to you. You may not feel like you are a victim of abuse or feel uncertain whether you are being exploited.

The first and most important thing to do is to know that it is not your fault, and you haven’t done anything wrong.

You may feel afraid, ashamed or embarrassed that you won’t be believed but it is very important that you tell someone - if you are young tell an adult that you can trust – this will hopefully provide emotional and practical support to end your relationship with the person exploiting you.

Call the Women's Rape & Sexual Abuse Helpline at The Women’s Centre Cornwall if you would like to confidentially discuss any of the issues surrounding sexual exploitation on 01208 77099.

If you are a young person, we may refer you to the YEW Project (Young Empowered Women) for further ongoing support. Alternatively, there are a number of helpline and online resources to advise and inform you.

Please remember that you are not alone and non-judgemental support and advice is available.

 

 

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