Skip to content
Font size: A A
Contrast: C C C C
Accessibility How to use this site
Call 999 in emergencies or 101 for non-emergencies
Contact us

What is it?

Sexual exploitation is someone taking advantage of you sexually, for their own benefit. Through threats, bribes, violence, humiliation or telling you that they love you, they will have the power to get you to do sexual things for their own, or other people’s benefit or enjoyment (including touching or kissing private parts, sex or
taking sexual photos).

Sexual exploitation can be difficult for anyone to recognise because often the person being abused may think that the abuser is their boyfriend or girlfriend and that they are in a good relationship.

People who sexually exploit others can use very clever ways to gain trust and then use this to get something in return. They may ask for you to send sexual images or ask you to watch them doing something sexual. They
may then threaten you or try to frighten you if you don’t do what they ask.

It is important to look out for these warning signs and see if someone’s behaviour towards you, or your friends,
is not all that it seems to be.

Could this be you or a friend?

  • Do you stay out overnight?
  • Have you been missing from home?
  • Do you miss school?
  • Does an adult outside your family give you money,clothes, jewellery, a mobile phone or other presents?
  • Do you have an older boyfriend or girlfriend?
  • Do you take drugs or drink alcohol?
  • Are you losing touch with your family or friends?
  • Do you hate yourself sometimes?
  • Are you secretive about where you go and who you see?
  • Do you chat to people online you have never met?

If this sounds like your life, you could be at risk of sexual exploitation. Taking risks is part of growing up, but you might feel like you are out of your depth and need some help. You have a right to feel safe and a right to get help.

Or you might notice these signs in your friends. You can get them the help they need to stay safe. 

How does it happen?

We know from experience that some adults draw
young people, just like you and your friends into sexual relationships. This is how it works:

  • older adults are nice to you
  • they show you a lot of interest and affection at the beginning, and make you feel special
  • sometimes they ask groups of young people to come back to their house with older adults
  • they offer you drugs and alcohol and 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 sex or sexual touching for themselves 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 become threatening and

Where does it happen?

It can happen anywhere, but perpetrators will often target places where they know young people will be without adults around.

These could include:
• Shopping centres
• Online on your social networks & gaming sites
• Arcades
• Cafes
• Fairgrounds
• Skate parks and parks
• Cinema complexes and take away food places
• Alcohol outlets
• Taxi ranks, railway and bus stations.

What can you do?

Firstly, if it’s happening to you understand that:




You will not be in trouble with the Police or anyone else.

If it’s happening to a friend, know that by speaking out you are potentially saving their life.

The person taking advantage is responsible for this situation. They might tell you it is your fault. This is a
lie to frighten you. There is support for you and your friends.

Download the CSE booklet

Download the CSE postcards

Page last updated: 11 January 2018