When someone is pressuring you to do something you don’t want to, it can be difficult to say “no”. You need to think of yourself first and the consequences of your decisions. If you believe the risk is too great to take, you need to stand up for yourself and say “no”.

This is always hard to do, especially if you want your friends to like you (and let’s face it – we all do!). However, being a good friend is not about going along with whatever your friends do. It’s about being honest about who you are and what you want. If your friends are true friends then they’ll respect you for that – even if your choices are different from theirs.

Saying NO also involves saying no to family members, regardless of if you feel like you HAVE to do something. Intimacy is different for everyone and everyone has the right to decide where his or her limits lie in any relationship.

NO MEANS NO – there are never any excuses for rape or sexual assault.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were almost twice as likely as non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have experienced male to female domestic violence (42%). Their experience of female to male domestic violence was also significantly higher (33%).

(Source; Crime Research Centre University of Western Australia and Donovan Research 2001, Young people and domestic violence: National research on young people’s attitude and experiences of domestic violence, quoted in Susan Pitman, et al. 2004, Profile of young Australians: Facts, figures and issues, Foundation for Young Australians, Melbourne, pp.30–1, viewed 19 January 2005.)

How do I know when I’m ready for sex?

People usually answer this question with “I will just know”. There are many things that impact on this decision such as: age, religious/cultural beliefs, partner and type of relationship. Things to consider include:

  • Are you feeling pressured, alone, uncomfortable? Then it probably isn’t the right time.
  • Have you and your partner talked about how far you are willing to go, contraception and what would happen if either of you changes your mind? Have you thought about how you will feel afterwards or how you will feel about your partner afterwards? If yes, then you are probably on your way to being ready.

How do I say “no”?

No can be hard to say – many adults have trouble saying no! There is sometimes a fear that we will be letting someone down or may hurt their feelings. Whatever the request, we need to be true to ourselves and if the answer is no we need to make sure we make that clear. Other people can’t read our minds, just as we can’t read theirs. But sometimes when we don’t make our feelings known, others may look for other signs, such as kissing, as a green light to go ahead. Don’t make people rely on these other signs – the only way to be really clear about what you want is to tell the other person – use words.

Ideas for saying ‘No’ include:

“No.”

“No, I don’t want to.”

“No, I’m just not ready.”

“No. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”

“No. I’m not ready for that sort of relationship.”

How do I get past peer pressure?

When someone is pressuring you to do something you don’t want to, it can be difficult to say “no”. You need to think of yourself first and the consequences of your decisions. If you believe the risk is too great to take, you need to stand up for yourself and say “no”. This is always hard to do, especially if you want your friends to like you (and let’s face it – we all do!). However, being a good friend is not about just following along with everything that your friends do. It’s about being honest about who you are and what you want. If your friends are true friends then they’ll respect you for that – even if your choices are different from theirs.

What happens if someone won’t listen when I say no?

It is your choice to decide if you do or don’t want to do something. When it comes to sexual relationships, you can decide what you want to do and nobody has the right to pressure or force you into any sexual activity. Whether you know the person or not, if they force you into having sex, it is rape.

There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding the issue of sexual abuse and rape. Many people think rape only happens to someone in a dark street by a stranger. The reality is that most rape and sexual assault happens between two people who know each other. It is sometimes about mixed messages and people not checking in properly with the other person to make sure they’re happy with what is happening. It is often about power and control. Drugs and alcohol are not an excuse for rape and blaming rape on how much you had to drink or how stoned you were, is a cop out. Men can always control their sexual urges, no matter how much a man is turned on. There are no excuses.

Sometimes it can be very hard but it is very important to tell an adult or someone you trust that something is going on in your life that you don’t like. If you’ve been sexually abused or raped, it’s important that you talk to someone about it.

What is rape?

Rape refers to unwanted sexual intercourse, including oral or anal sex. Although definitions may vary from state to state, even partial penetration generally counts as rape. “Unwanted” means that the victim was overcome by force or fear, or wasn’t able to give consent.

Men and women can be victims of rape, although it is far more common for a girl to be a victim. Rape is a seriously under-reported crime. Many victims may feel ashamed or embarrassed about what has happened to them, and so won’t tell anyone. However, rape crisis counsellors emphasise the psychological importance of sharing your experience with someone else.

If you, or someone you know, has been the victim of rape and want to talk about it privately, there are plenty of places you can call to speak to someone in complete confidence. You may want to speak to the local police, your GP, a teacher, a family member or a local counsellor.

What is sexual assault?

Unlike rape, sexual assault refers to any form of sexual activity without consent. This is a broad term that includes if someone threatens to hurt you or touch you, and does not necessarily have to lead to or involve rape.

Forced sexual activity is a criminal offence whether the person who hurts you is someone you know or not. Sexual assault is never ok and the offender can be charged if there is enough evidence.

Support Services

National Network of Indigenous Women’s Legal Services

www.nniwls.org.au

Centre Against Sexual Assault Crisis Line

24hrs weekends Ph: Freecall rural 1800 806 292

Women’s Information & Referral Service (WIRE)

Mon-Fri 9.30am-5.30pm

Ph: 1300 134130

Men’s Referral Service

Mon-Fri 12pm-9pm

Ph: 1800 065973

Kids Help Line

Ph: 1800 551800

www.kidshelpline.com.au

Lifeline Australia

Ph: 131114

www.lifeline.org.au

For legal information about the state you live in, check out www.lawstuff.org.au

For more information on sexual health help & advice contacts, please see Help & Advice.