Q What do you do or say to help if your friend is in an unhealthy relationship?
It can be really hard to watch your close friend stay in an unhealthy relationship but the most important thing you can do is to be there for your friend and support them no matter what their decision is (if they stay in the relationship or break up).
Talking and listening to your friend shows that you care and this may also help your friend realise that they may not be in a respectful relationship. It’s important not to blame your friend for the relationship or tell them to leave. Instead ask them if there is anything you can do to help, let them know about the support services in school or in your community that may be helpful. For more information check out our page on Intimate Partner Violence for tips on what to do & say to a friend who may be in an unhealthy relationship.
Q How do I break up with my abuser?
Breaking up with an abusive partner can be very different from breaking up with someone who isn’t abusive. Because abusers believe that they are entitled to control you, they may not let you break up with them. If you’re considering breaking up with an abusive partner it’s important to talk it though with an adult you trust. You may want to fill out a safety plan to help you stay safe. You will need to be prepared for your abuser trying to ‘win you back’. Writing a list of all the reasons why you weren’t happy in the relationship may help you stay strong.
Click here to download a PDF factsheet.
Q What is the best way to handle a situation if you don’t give consent and they continue?
If you have been sexually assaulted the most important thing to remember is that it’s not your fault. This is a really frightening situation to be in and can make you feel extremely disempowered. Because all of us are different and every situation is different we may react in different ways. It’s important to remember that if you haven’t given consent and the other person continues they have committed a sexual crime.
Usually when we are confronted by a threat, our survival instinct will kick in and there are several ways we might respond. We could either go into what is called a flight, fight or freeze mode. Whatever your instinctive reaction is it’s important to realise that you have done exactly what you needed to do in that moment to keep yourself safe and the only person at fault is the person that sexually assaulted you. If you have been sexually assaulted there is a number support options available check out our Sexual Assault page for more information.
Q What’s the difference between anal sex and oral sex?
Oral sex is sexual activity between partners in which someone's genitals or anus are being stimulated by someone else's mouth, lips or tongue. Anal sex is any kind of sex that involves a person's anus. That can be oral sex, manual sex, or it can also be anal intercourse, with either a penis or a sex toy.
Q My dad abused my mother – does that mean I will be in an abusive relationship?
Abuse is a learned behaviour. Sometimes people see it growing up. Other times they learn it from friends or popular culture. But, no matter where it's learned, it's not ok and it's never justified. Many people experience or witness abuse growing up and decide not to use those negative and hurtful ways of behaving. It's important to know that being abusive is a choice - and it’s not one that you have to make. Likewise, if you’re concerned that you may be abused because you witnessed abuse growing up, it’s important to learn about respectful relationships, the early warning signs of intimate partner violence, and develop a healthy self esteem and self respect. If you grew up in a violent home you may want to talk to a counsellor to help you sort through your feelings.
Q How can I make my boyfriend be more romantic?
Some boys are more romantic than others. Just because he’s not buying you flowers every week doesn’t mean that he’s not into you. People show their affection and love in different ways – some people are good at talking about how they feel, some people do little thoughtful things and Ryan Gosling will go to war, write to you every day for a year, build your dream house, wait years and years for you, take you on a row boat through a flock of swans and declare his love to you in the pouring rain...
There are a lot of romantic movies out there that might give us unrealistic ideas about romance and what relationships are like. What you need to remember is that everyone is different and not everyone is going to act like they do in the movies. That said, it is nice to get spoilt from time to time. If you are feeling a little neglected you might have to let your boyfriend know. You might need to do it in a very obvious way e.g. “Take me out to see a movie THAT NO ONE GETS KILLED IN”.
Q What is slut shaming?
This is something that happens, pretty much, just to women. Slut Shaming is when women and girls are attacked, put down, gossiped about and laughed at for breaking the ‘supposed rules’ of being a female in this world. A girl or woman might be called nasty words for having consensual sex, she might be called the s-l-u-t word because there are rumours or people think that she is having sex or engaging in sexual activity. She might cop slut shaming for flirting with someone she likes, or for wearing a skirt or worst of all, for having non-consensual sex (that means a girl/ woman who is raped gets called a s-l-u-t/ w-h-o-r-e/ other-horrible-name).
Q What can you do about domestic violence if you’re told to keep it a secret?
Having to keep a secret like that is really hard, particularly if it’s in your family, or if you’re concerned about the safety and wellbeing of another person. Sometimes, but certainly not always, talking about the violence can make it worse if you’re given the wrong advice or if the person you talk to tells the wrong people at the wrong time. However, it is really important that you talk to someone who you can trust and who will be able to help you know what to do. There are a number of people in school that you can talk to such as guidance officers/counsellors; there are also many community support services that specialise in domestic violence counselling. For more information, check out our page on Intimate Partner Violence and how to support someone experiencing this.
Q My boyfriend asked me for sex before he asked me out! Is this normal?
With all relationships (friendships included) we need to think about how we would like to be treated, what are our rights, what do we want in a partner/ friend and what values are important to us in a relationship. Being sexual is only one part of a relationship and if they are asking that kind of question before asking you out you need to reflect on what you want from a relationship, what it seems they want and consider whether these match.
Q I’m really embarrassed about my vagina. My flaps hang out of the bottom and it looks so ugly!
Labia minora are the internal vaginal lips that sit inside of the labia majora and just like the rest of our body they differ immensely from one woman to another. One of the issues with body image and pornography is that we are only shown one body type and that usually means one vagina type. Many women who perform in porn have had labiaplasty – a cosmetic procedure to reduce the size of their labia minora – just like many female porn performers have had breast augmentations. There is no ‘normal’ when it comes to labia, but if your labia minora protrude to the point where they are painful it may be worth talking to your doctor.
Q What’s the big deal about naked women in popular culture – isn’t it good that women are feeling empowered to be sexual?
There are a couple of things that make this a big deal. Firstly, many of the women we see on music vids and stuff like that aren’t being naked because they choose to be. They are usually naked to sell something – to make money for somebody else. That makes them a commodity – a product – and that makes them objectified. The easiest way for one person to be violent towards another person is to turn them in to an object ... it’s much easier to hurt an object than a person.
Another thing that makes this a big deal is that it assumes that women are only valued for being hot. These same women who are being ‘empowered’ by being naked aren’t being empowered (or valued) for being smart, funny, witty, talented, courageous, quirky, adventurous – all of those things that make us REAL.
If mainstream pop culture was really open to all expressions of female sexuality and not simply presenting women's bodies as objects to be ogled, then we wouldn't be seeing the same body types in the same poses again and again.
Q Do guys know when they’re going to come so that during sex they can pull out without making the girl pregnant?
Withdrawal is an ineffective method of contraception for younger people. Younger men tend to ejaculate much more quickly; sex with partners is newer to them so it's tougher for young men to anticipate when their orgasm is going to happen or has even started happening; younger people are often just learning how to communicate with each other well about and during sex; and young people are also often more fertile than their older counterparts. These are some reasons why even advocates for withdrawal overall will express that it is not often the best choice for young people.
It also gives zero protection against STI’s!
Q Is it ok to look at porn?
This is a really personal decision and can be a very sensitive issue. People have very different feelings and opinions about porn. For a lot of young people, viewing porn is their first experience of sex so it is important to remember that porn can give people unrealistic ideas about sex, sexual acts, what women look like, what men look like and what people enjoy in sexual relationships. A lot of on- line porn involves acts of degradation and violence that do not reflect respectful behaviour in real life relationships.
Q My bf/gf wants to use sex toys during foreplay and intercourse, but I’m not really into it. How do I tell my partner this without hurting their feelings?
It’s great that you have identified what you like and don’t like in a sexual relationship. Communication is the key to handling this situation. You should discuss this issue with your partner honestly and explain to them that you are not interested in using sex toys for pleasure. If you are in a healthy relationship your partner will understand and respect your sexual limits. You should talk to your partner about other ways to increase pleasure which will satisfy you both. If your partner does respect your decision to not use sex toys then you need to really consider whether you are in a healthy and respectful relationship.
Q How do I please a girl?
Every girl is different and is going to enjoy different things. Again, it comes back to communicating with your partner about what they enjoy and what they don’t by asking questions and being honest with each other. Foreplay is a very important part of getting each other ready for sex, so take your time exploring each other’s bodies and discovering what you do and don’t like. Remember too, that what you might have seen in porn is not a realistic picture of what girls or guys really enjoy.
Q Is it natural to not know if you like the opposite sex at this age?
It is natural and normal to have a lot of new feelings and thoughts during adolescence. There are hormones racing around, making your body do all sorts of different things while your brain is trying to keep up with it all. Many adolescents develop same sex crushes that aren’t necessarily sexual which can confuse things as well. Some people know from a very early age which sex they’re attracted to, but some people take a while to work it all out. Be honest with yourself and find a trusted adult you feel comfortable talking to about your feelings.
Q Someone at school showed me a naked photo/selfie of a chick I know. Should I tell someone?
Selfies tend to go viral very quickly, even when the picture was intended for one person only. If you have seen the photo the chances are that a lot of other people (including adults) have seen it too. Think about how you might feel if something like this happened to you or one of your close friends. The spreading of these images can have a huge impact on relationships, friendships, school, family, work, mental health and emotional wellbeing. Privately telling a trusted adult could do a lot to support the girl involved. There are also a number of legal consequences to keeping these images on your phone, tablet or computer, forwarding them on to others, or putting them on social media that should be considered.