Introduction

We have lots of different relationships. We have friendships, family relationships and intimate partners & these can range from a steady boy/girlfriend to a one night stand. Most relationships have unwritten rules that keep them ticking over. We usually have expectations about how we should be treated in our relationships, and how we should treat others. For example, you may not continue a friendship with someone who puts you down and makes you feel bad.

Romantic or sexual relationships can sometimes be a bit more complicated. When you really fall for someone it can be hard to see the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.

A healthy relationship involves trust, respect and equality. Some other ingredients of a healthy relationship are:

  • Feeling safe and comfortable with your partner
  • Valuing each other’s opinions – even if they are different
  • Supporting each other’s dreams and ambitions
  • Honesty and trust
  • Having other interests that don’t involve each other
  • Accepting each other’s friends and family
  • Making each other laugh
  • Only having sexual contact when both people want to
  • Accepting each other for who you are

Let's Talk

As human beings we are born communicators. Research shows that even the tiniest of babies show signs of wanting to be sociable. So why is it sometimes difficult to stand up for yourself, talk about feelings or let someone know what really turns you on?

We communicate in lots of different ways, usually with the aim of sharing information, to be sociable or to show our feelings and attitudes. Lots of communication relies on words. However, things like body-language are just as important, if not more. For example, how we look at someone (or away from them,) how we stand and our facial expressions often say much more than words about how we’re feeling or what we really mean. Tone of voice can also say a lot about the messages people want to communicate (think about how you sound when you’re angry or being sarcastic, chances are it’s pretty obvious what mood you’re in.)  Communication can also happen through technology like phones, apps or social media. Sometimes this can cause issues as it’s much harder to work out what someone’s really trying to say when they’re not in front of you.

Communication is also about being a good listener. If you hear people properly then there’s less chance of a misunderstanding. If you’re not sure what someone means, ask them.

Communication makes the world go round, and being an effective communicator can help you to build positive relationships. You need to communicate so that you can learn at school, make friends, work in teams, and get a job. It also helps at home, especially as you get older and have your own ideas and opinions.

In a romantic or sexual relationship it’s important to be able to tell you partner what you want and don’t want. Having the confidence to speak up about your boundaries, expectations, contraception and having sex can help you have a happier relationship.

Lots of things can get in the road of good communication. It can feel more awkward talking to someone you don’t know, someone you’re attracted to or authority figures like police and doctors.

We sometimes struggle to communicate if we’re worried about being judged by other people, or when we think they might not like what we have to say. It may be harder to communicate when you’re in a group of people instead of one to one.

Our own feelings, and what we think people expect of us, can also get in the way of saying or showing what we really mean. Things like fear or embarrassment can impact on what you do or say. This can be especially true when it comes to talking about sex with a partner.

Low self-esteem and anxiety can also make us less able to tell someone what we really want to say.

Feeling like someone hasn’t understood you properly in the past may also stop you from wanting to communicate with them.

The situation you’re in can affect communication. If it’s loud it can be difficult to understand people, or to be understood. Not feeling comfortable or safe can be a barrier to communication, as can being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Consent

Consent is a term used in Scots Law to describe both or all people involved in sexual activity giving their agreement to willingly participate in sex. Only people over the age of 16 are able to consent to sex. If you are under 16 click here for more information.

The law describes consent as being “free agreement” which means given in circumstances where there is no coercion involved. The law in Scotland also describes situations where free agreement has not taken place.

Free agreement cannot take place when:

  • An individual is incapable because of drink or drugs
  • There is violence or threat of violence
  • Someone is unlawfully detained
  • Someone is deceived as to nature of activity
  • Someone thinks the person they are having sex with is someone else
  • Sexual activity is agreed to by a third person
  • Someone is asleep or unconscious. 

https://www.disrespectnobody.co.uk/

Pressure

What sort of things should you consider before having a sexual relationship? It’s a good idea to ask:

  • Am I sure about this?
  • Do they want the same as me?
  • Do I feel safe?
  • Am I doing this because of other people’s expectations?

And of course it’s completely fine not to be interested in having a sexual relationship at all.

We can feel pressure to have sex from all sorts of people. It can come from a partner, from our friends, from our families or communities. We can even put pressure on ourselves to have sex to fit in with our ideas about what everyone else does or what kind of person we think we should be.

For some, choosing not to have sex can be a positive choice in their life. People can choose not to have sex for just one night, or for longer periods of time regardless of whether or not they are in a relationship.

Sometimes people have sex with someone and afterwards wish they hadn’t. If you feel you’ve made a mistake and feel down or worried, talking about your feeling of regret can help make you feel better and help you understand why you made your choice.

Whatever choice you want to make it’s important not to be pressured into doing something you don’t want to do. Remember you have a right to take charge of what happens to you and your body and to make your own choices. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t want to have sex but are not sure how to go about dealing with this then it can be very helpful to talk to someone about it.

Rape & Sexual Assault

If you have been sexually assaulted, it is important to remember that it wasn’t your fault. Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens. Don’t be afraid to get help.

 

A sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth by the penis), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse or the torture of a person in a sexual manner.

Sexual assault is an act that is carried out without the victim’s active consent. This means they didn’t agree to it.

It is not uncommon for a victim of sexual assault to have no physical injuries or signs of their assault. But sexual assault is still a crime and can be reported to the police in the same way as other crimes.

Most sexual assaults are carried out by someone known to the victim. This could be a partner, former partner, relative, friend or colleague. The assault may happen in many places, but is usually in the victim’s home or the home of the alleged perpetrator or person carrying out the assault.

If you’ve been sexually assaulted, there are services that can help. You don’t have to report the assault to police if you don’t want to. You may need time to think about what has happened to you. However, consider getting medical help as soon as possible, because you may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensic medical examination takes place, the better.

Try not to wash or change your clothes immediately after a sexual assault. This may destroy forensic evidence that could be important if you decide to report the assault to the police.

The following services will provide treatment or support, and can refer you to another service if you need more specialist help:

Remember…You Are Not to Blame… Even If:

  • Your attacker was an acquaintance, date, friend or partner
  • You have been sexually intimate with that person or with others before
  • You were drinking or using drugs
  • You froze and did not or could not say “no,” or were unable to fight back physically

Ways to Take Care of Yourself:

  • Get support from friends and family – try to identify people you trust to validate your feelings. Spend time with people who know your strengths and positive qualities. Try not to isolate yourself
  • Talk about the assault and express feelings – you can choose when, where, and with whom. You can also decide how much or how little to talk about