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Barnardo’s say 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 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.
Whoever it is, they often 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, gifts or somewhere to stay and then force you to do one or more of these things in return:
- Look at sexual images – including films or pictures or be asked to take and send some of yourself.
- Watch them do something sexual, including touching themselves sexually or having sex.
- Be touched inappropriately, in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable
- Do something sexual to them
- Have sex with them or their friends
It’s really important to look out for the warning signs that someone’s behaviour towards you may not be all it seems.
If you are worried about a situation that you or a friend is in, talk to an adult that you trust as soon as you can. Other people who can help include
- School nurses
- GP surgeries
- SWISH Services
You can also call Child Line on 0800 11 11