How will I know if I am ready for sex?
People feel ready at different points. It's up to the indiviual to decide when is right for them. Feeling a little nervous is normal - but it should also be exciting, something that you genuinely want to do. If it feels like you're being pressured it's probably a sign that you're not ready.
There are no rules that say when you should have sex based on how long you have been dating. If you are having fun dating but don't want to have sex, then you should just continue doing that.
If you think that you're ready, talk to your partner about how you are feeling and what you would like to try. Before having sex it's good to understand your options for contraception and how to prevent STIs.
What if my partner looks turned on? Do I still have to get consent.
Sometimes our bodies will be turned on but we don’t want to be touched. Even if a penis is erect or the vagina is wet – it’s not an automatic invitation. Our minds may want the opposite of what our bodies are doing which can be confusing and uncomfortable. You always have to listen to what someone tells you that they want, over and above what their body seems to be doing. Thinking that they are turned on is not an acceptable excuse to keep doing something when someone is asking you to stop.
What does the age of consent mean? And why does it exist?
‘Age of consent’ is another way of saying the legal age at which you can consent to sex. Most countries have laws that state how old a person has to be before they can agree to sex. The most common age of sexual consent is 16 years old, but this can vary from country to country.
If an adult has sex with someone under the age of consent, they are breaking the law. It's known as statutory rape because the child or young person is judged by the law to be too young to consent. This means that even if a person below this age says 'yes', having sex with them is still considered rape.
These laws exist to protect children and young people, who because of their young age and dependence on adults are more vulnerable to exploitation, and may not be able to fully understand sex to give informed consent.
How should I respond if someone tells me about a sexual assault or sexual harrassment?
Many things can make people afraid to tell others about their experiences of sexual assault or harassment. If someone chooses to tell you about something that happened to them, it's important that you respect their trust, and respond in a way that is sensitive and puts their needs first. It's not an easy position to be in, but here's some advice to help you support them.
1. Know that talking about sexual assault can be worrying.
The most common reason people give for not reporting assaults is that they were afraid they wouldn't be believed. People may also be concerned that somehow the assault will be seen as their fault. Be aware of this and try to avoid saying things such as 'I just can't believe it'. You may only mean to say that you are shocked, but they might interpret it as you saying you don't believe what they are telling you. It's important to realise that sexual violence can happen to anyone: men, women and children and it's never the victim's fault. It's also good to remember that the extent of the assault doesn't define its severity.
2. Try to focus on them and their needs.
Hearing about sexual assault can be shocking and upsetting, but it's important to reassure and listen to the person. Try not to look shocked and panicked, as they might worry about having upset you. You should also avoid asking too many questions about the details. This could make things complicated if they decide to tell the police and they may not be ready or want to tell you every detail about what happened. Talking about sexual assault can be difficult. Let them decide how and when they want to talk about it.
3. Respect their privacy.
This information should be treated sensitively. Whether or not you need to report the incident to someone else will depend on the situation and your relationship to the person. In the case of children or when you have a duty of care for someone you will need to report the case, but otherwise what they've told you should be treated as private information, and not passed on to anyone else unless you have their permission. It's their choice who they tell. If you're unsure whether you are required to report this information, speak to a supervisor or employer about what your role should be in these circumstances.