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What is sexual exploitation?

Sexual exploitation is legally defined as follows:

Any person who is in a position of authority or trust toward a young person, who is a person with whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency or who is in a relationship with a young person that is exploitative of the young person, and who:

– for a sexual purpose, touches a young person directly or indirectly; or
– for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or incites a young person to touch him or her.

For the purposes of the SPHÈRES project, sexual exploitation is defined as follows:

A person, adolescent or adult, whose vulnerability is exploited, whether through a position of authority, an abuse of trust or a dependency that impedes a genuinely healthy and egalitarian relationship. As a result, this person is led to engage in prostitution.
When we discuss prostitution, we use the definition proposed by Hanigan (1997): “the practice of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for goods and services, mainly for reasons other than satisfying one’s own sexual or emotional needs.”

Under no circumstances can juvenile prostitution be perceived as a free and informed choice. Consequently, when we address the topic of juvenile prostitution, we inevitably talk about sexual exploitation.

*SOURCE: Criminal Code of Canada

What are the consequences?

The consequences of sexual exploitation are many.

They may take different forms, but not necessarily at the same time.

Psychological consequences
• Loss of self-esteem
• Feelings of guilt or shame
• Loss of trust in adults
• Loss of motivation
• Difficulty maintaining emotional relationships
• Feeling of contempt for one’s body and that it belongs to someone else
• Problematic sexual development
• Premature sexual learning
• Depression, stress, feelings of failure

Social consequences
• Isolation
• Incomprehension on the part of the person’s entourage
• Rejection (anticipated or actual) by family and peers
• Dropping out of school
• Instability with friends
• Social exclusion
• Stigmatization

Physical consequences
• Exposure to HIV or other STBBIs
• Intense fatigue due to irregular life patterns
• Unwanted pregnancy
• Sleep disorders
• Drug and alcohol addiction

Fleury and Fredette, 2002
Lanctôt, Couture, Couvrette, Laurier, Paquette, Parent and Turcotte, 2018

Getting out of sexual exploitation?

There’s hope! If you (or a loved one) are a victim of sexual exploitation, there are ALWAYS solutions.

Be assertive and clearly express what you want and don’t want.
Never do something you feel obliged to do.
Practise saying “no.”
Talk about your fears. Surround yourself with positive, respectful people.

Resources are available to help you change your life.

The SPHÈRES project is one of them.

Visit the “Contact” section to reach our team by email, or call us at 514 896-3590.

Our qualified counsellors will be happy to help you or a loved one move on to a better life.