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Sex and saying no

It doesn’t matter what your relationship with someone, how far into a sexual situation you get or how far you’ve gone with them before, you always have the right to change your mind and stop at any time. It’s up to the other person to respect that.

It’s simple. You can say no to sex at any time.

Any sort of sexual activity without consent is illegal whatever the age of the people involved and whatever their relationship.

If you’re under pressure to have sex, it can be hard to know how to deal with these situations, so here are some tips and ideas that might help.

Thinking about what you want

Knowing what you’re happy doing can help you to be confident about it. Maybe oral is OK, but full sex definitely isn’t. Or maybe you’re happy to go all the way, but only if the situation is right. Things change, but having a bit of an idea in advance can help.

Talk to your partner

Talking is probably the best way of making things clear. Try having a chat with your partner about what you’re happy doing and what you’re not happy doing. Letting them know early on what you’re up for can save any confusion later down the line.

You could also talk it through with a friend you trust to get some advice or to practice how you’ll discuss it with your partner.

Plan on an exit strategy

  • Say something like, “I like you, but I just want us to have fun tonight and not have sex” or “I’m not feeling well”
  • Before you go home with someone, set your phone to ring itself in an hour or so or get a mate to call you
  • Say you need time to think. It’s OK to need time to decide on something, so tell them you need some time before going further
  • Go to the toilet and get a friend to ring you in 5 mins
  • Say you’ve just had an urgent phone call and need to go home

Practise saying no

It can help to practise what you might say if someone was putting pressure on you. It may feel a bit stupid, but that way you’re more prepared for if or when the situation does ever come about.

What to do if they’re not listening

If someone isn’t getting the hint or listening to you, showing you’re upset with your tone of voice and body language will make your message stronger. Saying and repeating the words “stop” or  “no” should help get the message across, as can saying why you want them to stop.

It’s not always easy to show that you’re upset or angry and you may worry about hurting their feelings. But remember you have the right to say no if you don’t want to do something and you’re not doing anything wrong by saying no. The law is very clear that sex must involve consent (agreement). Sex without it, is rape.

If someone is putting pressure on you or not listening to what you want, it’s unlikely that they’re respecting you.

If you feel in danger in any way or feel that you might be forced to do something you don’t want to do, then you need to get away from the situation as soon as possible.

Getting help

If you have been in a situation where you were forced into sex you didn’t want then there are lots of organisations that can help you.

If you are under 19, you can contact Childline in confidence for help and advice.
Whatever your age you call 999 or support organisations such as Rape Crisis or Victim Support.
Here’s what you told us about consent:

At first I wasn’t ready. He asked me and I said I’m not ready. A couple months later he started pressuring me saying ‘I’ll make you ready, etc. la la la…’. He didn’t force me but he was verbally pressuring me. It made me feel like he wanted to use me, so we ended up breaking up. In my relationship now I felt like I was ready when we did it and he didn’t mind waiting until I was.”

Jessica, 17

I was in a relationship with someone and I wanted sex but she didn’t. We spoke about it but in the end we ended up waiting because if you like the girl, trust her and believe in her then it’s worth it to wait.”

Nathan, 18

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