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What to do if…

You’re worried about a friend’s sexual behaviour

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If you’re worried about a friend’s sexual behaviour, you might be scared that it’s hurting them, or hurting someone else.

You might also worry that they’re going to get into trouble.

It can be really difficult to see someone you care about behave in a harmful way. You may feel confused, upset or even angry about it. 

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Common questions

Should I talk to my friend about their behaviour?

Talking to your friend about their harmful sexual behaviour may feel like a challenge.

So it might be a good idea to get some advice from an adult you trust before taking this step.  

Also, before you talk to your friend, try to answer these questions:

  • Have you had any serious conversations with this friend before? 
  • How did they respond? 
  • Do you think your friend is also worried about their behaviour ? 
  • How do you think they’ll react if you tell them you’re worried about their behaviour? 

It’s possible your friend won’t understand why you’re worried about their behaviour. And they may not be ready to talk to you about what’s been happening.  

If so, they could get quite defensive, angry or upset. They might even try to turn it into a big joke.

How should I talk to my friend about this?

If you feel ready to talk to your friend about their harmful sexual behaviour, here are some tips to help you start the conversation. 

Choose the right time

This is really important. Try to choose a time when you and your friend are both feeling calm, you have plenty of time to talk, and you won’t be interrupted. 

Before you start, check how your friend is feeling. If they’ve had a really difficult day, it may not be the best time. Try to avoid times when you’ve been drinking or there are lots of people around. 

Plan ahead

It’s normal to feel nervous about having a difficult conversation. Planning what you’re going to say beforehand can help you feel better prepared and stay calmer. 

Stick to the facts

Try to explain to your friend exactly what you’re worried about. Stick to the facts and avoid statements that make it sound like you’re judging them. 

For example, avoid saying things like “You’re disgusting” or “How could you do that?” Instead, try statements like “What happened wasn’t okay” or “I think what you did could really hurt someone”.  

This can be tricky, especially when you’re worried about your friend and their behaviour. You might be annoyed or even angry about how they’re behaving. 

But try to make it clear that it’s your friend’s behaviour you are concerned about. Make it clear to them that you don’t think they’re a bad person.  This will help show them that you care and you’re there to help.


Make sure you listen to your friend and give them time to speak about how they feel. 

Your friend may not have talked about this before, so it may take them time to work out what they want to say. Give them time to think about what you’ve said, too – be patient. 

Talk about support

Talk to your friend about the support they can get to stop their harmful behaviour. This could include speaking to an adult they trust, like a parent, carer or teacher. Or they can check out the Shore website or our email services for more support and advice. 

Be there for your friend

Your friend may want to talk to you again about their behaviour and about how to get help. If you can, keep supporting your friend to get help. And check in with them on how they’re feeling sometimes. This will be a difficult time for them, and knowing you’re there for them can mean a lot.

Take care of yourself

And finally, remember to look after yourself. Having these kinds of conversations with friends can be really nerve-wracking. You may feel anxious, worried or upset.

Remember, you’re not alone and it isn’t your responsibility to “fix the problem”. It is great that you’re supporting your friend, but make sure you understand how it’s affecting you too. 

Where can I get help?

Juggling all these feelings can be very overwhelming. So it’s important you find someone you can talk to about what’s happening.

You might be nervous about doing this, in case you get your friend into trouble. That’s understandable. 

But talking to an adult you trust will help to keep everyone safe, including yourself.  

Who would be best for you to talk to? Perhaps a parent, a carer or a teacher? It should be someone who can support you and help you decide what to do next. 

Are you struggling?

Our advisors can give you support and advice, and you don’t have to say who you are.

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