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Sexual exploitation Ė how much do you know?
Sexual exploitation can be hard to recognise because you often believe youíre in a good relationship with the person Ė or people Ė who want to abuse your trust in them.
It could be -
But whoever it is, they could use clever ways to take advantage of your relationship Ė and that means you can be harmed almost before you know whatís going on. For example, someone might give you money, drugs, alcohol, gifts or somewhere to stay and then force you to do one or more of these things in return:
Thatís why itís so important to look out for the warning signs that someoneís behaviour towards you may not be all it seems.
You are not to blame if this is happening to you. The adults who have taken advantage of you are responsible and they are the people who have done something wrong.
Is this you?
We know from experience that some adults, probably the older people you are hanging around with, draw young people just like you into sexual relationships. These older adults are nice to you, they show you a lot of interest and affection at the beginning and they make you feel special. Sometimes they ask groups of young people to come back to their house with older people. They offer you drugs and alcohol, a place to chill out. They may even buy you presents like clothes, a mobile phone, even give you money to buy things like cigarettes. When they have gained your trust and affection they may change how they act around you. They will ask for sexual favours for themselves and/or other people, in return for alcohol, drugs, presents, money; all the things they gave you for free a while ago.They stop being nice and can become threatening and violent.
Their aim is to draw young people like you into swapping or selling sex. They are not really your friends."
Who can you trust?
Itís not always easy to tell. Sexual exploitation can happen to you, no matter what your gender, age or background Ė so you need to be careful who you trust. That means looking out for warning signs that someone might want to take advantage of you, whether youíve recently met them or they belong to an existing group of friends.
One warning sign is when someone tries to get to know you better by giving you lots of attention and making you feel really special. They might buy you gifts or involve you in activities that seem exciting or fun. It becomes a problem if that person starts to try ways of controlling you, such as making promises they canít keep, threatening you, or even becoming violent if you donít do what they want.
They might also try and isolate you from your friends, family and other people who care for you. When that happens, itís easier for an abuser to put you in dangerous situations or force you to do things you donít want to do Ė with them or other people they know. Thatís not doing you a favour Ė thatís exploitation. Sadly, individuals who have fewer people looking out for them are even more vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
Aaliyah`s was one of them, to read more about what happened and to find out how she got help click on ........ www.barnardos.org.uk/specialist_sexual_exploitation_projects
You may also want to contact one of Barnardoís specialist sexual exploitation projects for advice, or to talk to someone about what youíve been through: