It Doesn’t Feel Right – But Is It Exploitation?

Sexual exploitation can happen in a lot of different situations. In some cases, a young person will be violently threatened or forced into an uncomfortable situation. They may be made to have sex with a number of men, be driven around the town or country to meet different ‘friends’ or they may be forced to take part in other exploitative situations that they have no control over.

However in other cases, the exploitation can be less obvious. Young people can form relationships with friends, older relatives and even classmates that at first feel OK, but then develop into something that’s more scary, uncomfortable and even dangerous.



Knowing how to tell when a relationship isn’t right is really important for all young people, as it can help to keep them safe and stop the abuse from becoming worse.

In a healthy relationship, your opinion and your feelings should always be considered. If you don’t give consent for something or are uncomfortable with it, then your partner should listen to you and stop what they are doing straight away.

This might mean consenting to something to do with sex, or it might be sharing intimate photos or videos that you have given to them. If they show other people these images without your approval then this is exploitative and could lead to even more serious abuse.

If your drink is ever spiked with drugs or alcohol without your knowledge, this could also be exploitative as you might not be in a position to give consent once you’ve consumed these substances.


Whether you’re in a serious relationship or you’re seeing someone more casually, your partner should always show you respect.

If they are nasty or mean to you in private or in front of others, or if they try to control you or make you feel bad, then they may not have your best interests at heart and could be trying to manipulate you.

When your partner doesn’t respect your feelings, your emotions or your decisions, you can feel uncomfortable and not in control. If these situations feel dangerous and start to happen more often you may need to get out of the relationship and talk to someone you trust.


In a healthy relationship, you should feel safe and secure at all times. If you feel like you’re in danger or that a situation could become dangerous or out of control, your relationship may not be as healthy as it should be.

If dangerous or uncomfortable situations start to happen a lot, your relationship could begin to become unhealthy and exploitative so make sure you talk to a parent, teacher, friend or someone else that you trust as soon as possible.

If you’re worried that your relationship is becoming exploitative, read our blog posts around relationships for information and advice. If you’ve been, or are being, exploited call the Rose Project on 0808 800 1037 or get in touch via our online chat.