18 June 2015
Though up to 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused, it’s a subject we still don’t talk about very often. You might spot a story online or see something on social media, but more often than not it still stays as one of those tricky topics we find difficult to discuss.
If you or one of your friends has been affected by sexual exploitation, this can make talking about it hard. A lot of people don’t know where to start when telling friends or family they’ve been exploited, even though telling a trusted adult can be the first step in escaping the situation.
If you’ve experienced sexual exploitation and are thinking about telling a parent or relative what’s happened, here are a few ideas that might make the conversation a little easier.
The right time to talk
Telling someone you’re being sexually exploited is difficult. To make sure you don’t feel rushed and are able to think about everything you want to say, choose a time when your parent or relative isn’t busy and can give you their complete attention.
If they’re busy a lot, ask them if they can put an hour or two aside for you so you can talk properly.
The right place to talk
Interruptions and distractions can make talking about sexual exploitation even harder.
To make sure you have the space to talk properly, find a place that’s quiet, private and where you’re unlikely to be disturbed.
A lot of young people who experience sexual exploitation find it difficult to get up the courage to tell a parent or relative what’s going on, so make sure you’re not interrupted, perhaps by a younger sibling or pans boiling on the hob, before you have a chance to talk.
Finding the right words
Before you sit down to talk to your parent or relative, think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.
Some young people find it’s easier if they write down a few notes first, that way they have something to look at if they get nervous when it’s time to talk.
Will they blame me?
A lot of the people who sexually exploit young people groom their targets to make them think the abuse is their own fault.
It’s important to remember that sexual abuse is never your fault. In most cases, trusted adults will understand that you’ve been exploited, however sometimes they may react by grounding you or giving you a curfew. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a punishment, it’s just their way of trying to keep you safe and out of harm’s way.
Sometimes hearing that their child is being or has been sexually exploited, especially by another family member, can make the parent feel that they have failed in some way. This is of course as untrue as saying its the person who has been abused fault, but can mean parents react in unexpected ways. They may get defensive initially, don’t want to believe it can be true or even have the opposite effect and get so upset they pledge to seek revenge on the exploiter. You can help your parent deal with your news by pointing them to Rose Project who can help guide them through what to do next.
What support is available?
If you want to talk to someone else before you approach your parent or relative or you just want to find out what help and support is available, call the Rose Project on 0808 800 1037 and talk to one of the friendly members of our team.