As teens start dating, it is important to talk about date and acquaintance rape. The same basic concepts of unwanted touch and the Personal Safety Saying (Say No, Get Away, Tell Someone) are still appropriate in most situations. Teens may feel confused and uncertain about what they want. They may need help exploring personal values about dating and sex. Discussing and listening to teens can build mutual trust. Two-way dialogue lets them know you have faith in their competence and respect for their opinions. Read below for messages to share with your teens.
1. You have the right and the responsibility to take care of yourself. You can set limits for yourself and others, trust your feelings, and not let others pressure you. But if someone does force or pressure you to do something you don’t want to do, always remember that it is not your fault.
2. Do not assume that you know what your date or partner wants. Assumptions are often wrong. Beginning early on, clear and specific communication of what you want and don’t want can sometimes prevent unpleasant or abusive situations.
3. True consent means both partners have equal power. Equal power means equal knowledge and equal freedom to make decisions, without pressure.
4. Sexual assaults happen in daily life. They most often occur in familiar places and between people who know each other. One example is being forced or pressured to do something sexual that you don’t want to do while on a date.
5. Forcing or pressuring someone to have sex is never okay. Force may be physical. It can also be non-physical, as in deception, trickery, threats, and verbal pressure. No one should ever say, “If you love me, you’ll have sex with me.”
6. If you are forced into sexual contact, tell me. I want to help you in the best way I can. If you feel like you cannot tell me, tell another adult who can help.
7. It is not your fault if you are sexually assaulted. Even if you were breaking a family rule, it is not your fault. I will not blame you. I want to help you.