Warning Signs
How do I know if someone is behaving abusively toward me?

This is the tricky part. When someone you love or depend on, treats you badly, you probably won’t want to admit it. You might even think you deserve it or brought it on. Know that you have the right to be safe and respected in all your relationships – it’s a human right. If someone is abusive – it’s not your fault. Ever.

You may have to fight hard for yourself to overcome your own denial about what is happening. Any one of these warning signs below says things aren’t right – take them seriously. You deserve to be loved without being hurt. Reach out talk with someone you trust about what you can do.

1. Making you do sexual things

If someone forces you to engage in sexual acts, watch porn, won’t let you leave, threatens you or does anything else against your will – it’s sexual abuse

2. Breaking trust

If a person who you trust – like a teacher, foster parent, older relative, boss or doctor makes you feel like you have to have sex, let them touch you or watch sex with them – it’s sexual abuse

3. Tricking you

If a person starts out doing things that seem ok and fun (like tickling or a ‘friendly’ hug) and then starts touching you or making you touch them in ways that make you uncomfortable – it’s sexual abuse

4. Keeping the secret

If the person does something sexual and then tells you not to tell anyone, or threatens you, or others, if you tell what happened – it’s sexual abuse

5. Blaming you for what they did

If a person forces you to have sex and then says it’s your fault it happened because you were drunk or high, asked for it by wearing certain clothes or looking a certain way, or were lying when you said didn’t want to – it’s sexual abuse

6. Using Pressure

Sex requires consent that is given freely. If a person won’t accept your ‘no’ or ‘not now’ or ‘not that’ or ‘not ever’, they are pressuring you to do something you have said no to. Using pressure is a warning sign that this person does not understand consent and does not respect your ‘no’ – it’s sexual abuse

7. Using stuff you need

If someone says, “if you don’t do it (something sexual), I won’t give you….” and they won’t give you things you need like food, shelter or a job – that is called coercion. Even if you say ‘yes’, it’s not consent because it’s another way to force you to do something you don’t want to do – it’s sexual abuse.

Further Reading & Resources