Sexual violence within teen dating relationships is very real. Oftentimes teens are made to feel as if sexual contact is “no big deal” or is “a part of being in a relationship/dating” by their perpetrators. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

According to the NSVRC report, Serving Teen Survivors: A Manual for Advocates, youths who experience sexual violence are most likely to have been abused by a peer or someone they know.

Your teen years are a time for figuring out who you are and what you enjoy, including your sexuality. Experimentation is common, sexual violence is not. Sex is not sex without consent. Sexual violence is defined as any type of sexual activity or contact that you do not consent to.

You may hear or encounter the following:

“But we have to have sex, we are dating aren't we?”

Being pressured or coerced to give or receive any type of sexual act is not a part of the healthy relationship bill of rights. You have the right to personal sovereignty. You have the right to deny or accept any type of sexual activity.

“You snagged me last time, why is it different now?”

You have the right to say “no” at any time, for any reason. Sex without consent is rape. It doesn't matter if you said “yes” before, you are saying “no” now. PERIOD.

“But condoms don't feel right.”

Pressuring you to have sex without protection is sexual violence. You have the right to safe sex and the autonomy to control your reproductive rights. Another tactic of reproductive abuse can be coercing you to take or not take your birth control, hiding or breaking your birth control or coercing you to try for an unwanted pregnancy.

All of the guys are grabbing girls at school, and everyone thinks it’s funny

Sometimes people can get caught up in a fad or a trend that crosses boundaries. Even if other people don't see the problem with that, finding it funny or “cute” doesn't mean it’s okay. Touching another person without consent is sexual harassment. As Ask Auntie says “this is not okay, and it is disgusting repulsive behavior.” She suggests going to your school counselor or administration and explain the situation and why it is not okay. 

Giving you alcohol or drugs

Trying to lower your inhibitions by giving you alcohol or drugs is a common tactic for those who sexually assault others. Slipping something into your drink without your knowledge is a very scary reality that happens more often than it should. Stay safe, watch your drinks and stay with friends at parties. 

New friend request/Unknown friends on social media

Online dating is the new norm. Unfortunately, there are also predators online looking for their next victim. They can create fake accounts or use charming tactics to get you comfortable with them. Some predators use social media as a way to send or ask for sexual pictures. This is a form of sexual harassment. Predators may also invite you to meet up then use the opportunity to sexually assault you. Stay safe when online dating, and always look out for online dating red flags.

There is no excuse for sexual violence. If you or a loved one has experienced sexual violence, you have options. There are steps you can take toward reclaiming your personal sovereignty. WeRNative is a great resource for youth looking for answers from peers. Find stories and tips about sexual health, ask Auntie Amanda or Uncle Paige your questions or tune into other Native youth.

If you are experiencing sexual violence, you can reach out to a trustworthy teacher, auntie, uncle or coach. If you don’t have a trustworthy network, StrongHearts Native Helpline is here to help. StrongHearts advocates will listen without judgment and support all victims regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or relationship status. Please know that sexual violence is never your fault.

We understand that sometimes a phone call can be overwhelming, so our advocates are available 24/7/365 via text, call and chat. Text 1-844-7NATIVE or start a chat on our website at strongheartshelpline.org to connect with one of our diverse Native-centered advocates.

Your body. Your sovereignty. Your decision. You never owe anyone sex.

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Author: StrongHearts Native Helpline