Frequently asked questions
Q. What does sexual exploitation mean?
A. This is a difficult question and everyone’s situation is different. Sexual exploitation may mean that someone may be forcing or coercing you to have sexual contact with them, or other people. It could also be an adult taking advantage of a situation that you are in to get you to have sex with them. Sometimes this happens online.
There is no one model that abusers use to sexually exploit young people. What we do know is that whatever your situation is, you are not at fault even if sometimes you feel like you want to go back to the abusive adult because this is really normal for young people who have experienced sexual exploitation and we will help you understand why and make these feelings easier.
It is also important to know that anyone can sexually exploit young people. The young people at BASE have been sexually exploited by men and women of all ages and all ethnic backgrounds. There is no one “type” of sexually exploitative abuser.
Q. How would you support me?
A. Our sessions with you will be flexible and focused on you. We will always want to get to know you first as we would not expect anyone to tell us difficult or personal information when they don’t know us. Ways we work include chatting about stuff, art work, music, drama, quizzes, games, DVDs and worksheets, and doing fun activities like cooking and crafts. It all depends on what you like the most!
Q. Who told you about me?
A. Lots of different people ring us when they are worried about a young person. This is never because a young person is in trouble but because it is important you have somewhere safe to get help. People who ring us about young people include: social workers, police officers, teachers, CAMHS workers, YOT workers, sexual health nurses but also really importantly family members, friends and sometimes young people themselves.
Q. I don’t agree that I am at risk, what does that mean for our work?
A. It won’t affect our work at all. We will often have different viewpoints and that’s ok! We will meet with you and support you whatever your viewpoints are about your situation at that time. Also you can still work with us even if you don’t want to talk at all about anything that’s happening to you. There’s lots of information we can give you and help we can provide without you having to tell us anything.
Q. Who decides what we will do when we meet?
A. You and your worker will plan what you do together. You can say at any point if you are unhappy or happy with anything we do. We try to see a young person once a week. Sometimes it will be more. It’s always your choice if you want to see us but we will pick you up and make sure we make it as easy as possible for you to come. Sessions don’t have set lengths and we can work out what feels right depending how things are.
Q. Where will we meet?
A. We can be flexible in where we meet you. It could be at the BASE project, in your local area, at your home or somewhere else, depending on where you feel comfortable or safe.
Q. Is what I tell you confidential?
A. Our work is for the most part confidential. We work closely with your family or carers and the other professionals you work with but we will always discuss with you what is ok or not ok for us to share. We will also give the police and social workers details of anyone we think has, or might be likely to, hurt or exploit you or friends you are talking to us about. This is because we have a job to keep you and other young people safe. It is always your choices whether to give us these details and we will remind you what we have to share when we are together.
Q. What if I miss an appointment?
A. We like to meet you regularly so we can keep in touch with what is going on with you. We know that sometimes you might miss an appointment and this is ok. We will just get in touch and arrange another time with you. We know sometimes the work at BASE might be difficult and you might find some sessions hard to come to but we will keep in touch and make sure that you have choices about what we talk about.
Q. Do you keep records on me?
A. Information about you and our sessions together is kept on a computer file. It is kept safely and confidentially at Bristol BASE.
Your worker will give you more information about this.
Q. What successes do you have with the young people that you work with?
A. Success is measured in many different ways, sometimes it may be that a young person has gone to a sexual health appointment which they had been too scared to go to in the past, for other young people it’s managing to get away from the abusive people who have been exploiting them and feeling settled and safe at home and able to go to school and make safe friends.
Every step a young person takes to be safer and healthier should be praised and celebrated.
Q. How many young people have you worked with and who are they?
A. In the last six months (April 2014-September 2014) we worked with 95 young people in Bristol. 17 of those young people were boys and young men.
There is no one group of young people who are sexually exploited. Our young people come from all different types of families, backgrounds, religious beliefs, schools and areas of the city. For example 36 of the young people we worked with in the last six months were from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.
The young people we work with are all different so some identify as straight, lesbian, gay or bisexual, and other young people we work with identify as transgender.
Some young people we work with live at home and some are in care with foster parents, in residential homes or schools, live in hostels or live in their own flats.
Our young people are aged 11-19 although we have supported some 9 and 10 year olds in the past.