The popular Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’ is airing its second season. The show deals with complex issues such as sexual violence, consent, and suicide. 

After watching the show, young people in your care may want to talk to you about their own experiences.

While it can be difficult, having an open and honest conversation is important. It’s a good chance to enable young people to be critical consumers of media and culture.

This page talks about how you can approach these types of conversations.

Having regular conversations

By having on-going regular conversations with a young person rather than just a once off, you’ll help them build trust in confiding in you.

The more you listen and take them seriously, the more likely they are to come to you for support. For example, you might like to talk about:

  • what consent is
  • what they understand consent is
  • how consent was or wasn’t given in what they’ve watched.  

Listening for immediate risks to young people

Keep an ear out for any immediate risks happening or about to happen to a young person in your care or their friends. 

Teach young people what immediate risks are. For example if:

  • harm is currently happening to someone, eg sexual bullying, assault or harassment
  • someone says they’re thinking of hurting themselves in any way
  • someone is threatening or has indicated they are going to hurt someone else.

Young people most often rely on their friends for support rather than adults. They often feel they must keep their friends’ secret and feel burdened as the sole support person. Help them understand that if there are any immediate risks, they should tell a trusted adult who can help. 

Tips for having difficult conversations

  • Stay calm. They may be fearful about talking to you
  • Let them know you take them seriously. If they feel judged, they’ll be less likely to talk to you in future
  • Stay open-minded. They might feel judged or guilty. Show them you’re not blaming them
  • Listen, then ask what they’d like to do next. They might want you to accompany them to a specialist service or counsellor, or they might just want to know you believe them. Allow them to have as much control as possible over what decisions are made 
  • Tell them you understand how hard it must be for them to talk to you about this, and thank them for being brave
  • Keep them safe. If there is an immediate risk from someone, contact the right authorities.

What a healthy relationship looks like

A healthy relationship involves communication, negotiation and consent. They’re respectful and positive relationships you can have with anyone in your life, including whānau, friends and dating partners. 

Healthy relationships involve trust, an equal sharing of work, and the potential for conflict to be resolved respectfully and constructively. 

Part of healthy relationships is recognising we all have different expectations about what we want from relationships and that's okay. It's important to know what you want as an individual, but also know how to find out from your partners what they think healthy relationships involve. 

Sexual violence happens without consent 

Sexual violence is anything sexual that happens to someone without their consent. 

It includes rape, the threat of rape, attempted rape, sexual harassment, sexual bullying, sharing unwanted sexual images and coercion. Sexual violence involves victims who do not consent, or who cannot consent. It can be carried out by anyone, regardless of their relationship with the victim, and in any social setting. 

Most sexual violence takes place through coercion. Coercion can vary from someone repeatedly asking them after they have refused sexual contact, to someone forcing another person to have contact with them through threatening to leave them or making them afraid to say no. Coercion can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make another person feel pressure, guilt or shame. 

Any time sexual activity takes place when someone doesn’t or cannot consent to it, it’s sexual violence. This is regardless of the age of the person, who the person is and if the people are in a relationship together. Consent is necessary for all and every sexual encounter.

Most (90%) sexual violence is done by someone the victim knew. For teens, it is their peers, friends, partners or ex-partners who often commit sexual violence against them.  

If someone experiences any type of sexual violence, it’s never, ever their fault. 
 

Consent is crucial for healthy relationships 

Consent is agreeing to do something and involves giving or getting permission to do something. Consent is a crucial part of healthy relationships, especially if anything sexual is involved.  

All people need to give consent before anything sexual happens. If one person doesn’t give consent, it is sexual violence. 

By law, there are situations when someone can’t give consent. Some of these times are if someone is:

  • under the age of 16
  • drunk or on drugs
  • coerced, forced or threatened in any way. Coercion means putting pressure on someone or trying to make them do something they don’t want to do.
     

WHEN YOU NEED CONSENT

Consent is required for all sexual encounters, whether in person or online. This includes showing or sharing sexual material. Examples of situations where consent is required:

  • With someone you don’t know very well
  • With someone who you’ve been with for a long time. Even married people need consent every single time
  • Every single time something sexual is about to happen even if you’ve done that before with that person. You still need to ask for consent again
  • If there’s someone who has done lots of sexual stuff with other people, you also need to ask them for their consent
  • If someone consents to one thing, that doesn’t mean they’re consenting to everything else, just to that one thing
  • People can change their mind after giving their consent, at any time, including after they’ve already said yes
  • If someone liked doing something before doesn’t mean they’ll like doing that again
  • If someone is silent or isn’t saying no or yes. Verbally ask them if they’re ok with what is happening. If the other person isn’t okay with what’s happening or you’re not sure, stop!
     

IT’S OK TO NOT GIVE CONSENT

If someone says no, doesn’t seem that keen or is drunk, then sexual activity should not happen. 

Consent happens through communicating and negotiating. Understanding and practising consent is a key aspect of sexual violence prevention. 

Understanding power and control

Understanding power and control is an important part of understanding how unhealthy and abusive relationships play out. 

One way of thinking about power in relationships is to think about it in terms of 'power to' and 'power over.' 'Power to' is about a person being able to change the circumstances of their life by having or creating options and then taking them. 'Power over' is about the ability of one person to limit the options and choices of another person. 
 

POWER OVER ANOTHER PERSON

The main feature of an unhealthy or abusive relationship is about one person exercising power and control behaviours over another person. These power and control behaviours don't usually appear in the early stages of a relationship, but show up and get worse as the relationship continues. These behaviours hardly ever go away on their own. In fact, they usually get worse over time.

Domestic violence doesn't look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive person does many kinds of things to have more power and control over the other person. 

Dating violence in relationships

Dating violence is controlling, abusive, and aggressive behaviour in a romantic relationship. Verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse or a combination of these things, including stalking, are all examples of dating violence. 

It can happen in person, online and via text, and in straight and gay relationships. It’s a term that is often used for unhealthy relationships between young people.

Some young people are already being harmed, and harming others in their own dating relationships. A Ministry of Justice survey says that 15 to 24-year-olds are the age group most at risk of physical, psychological and sexual victimisation from current and ex-partners. 

Sexual and dating violence can profoundly impact young peoples’ health, wellbeing and ability to learn at school or in other education. 

Myths about rape 

Rape myths are beliefs about rape that are almost always false but are widely held. Rape myths often blame the victim, by saying that rape is the victim’s fault and not the perpetrator's. 

Belief in rape myths is damaging for everyone but especially for people who’ve experienced sexual violence.  If they believe rape myths they’re more likely to blame themselves, experience more negative and long-term impacts of the abuse, and are less likely to access support. People who believe in rape myths are also more likely to sexually harm others.

 

How to combat rape myths

The best way to fight against the damages of rape myths is by getting to know the facts and informing others. 

Myth: wearing revealing clothes, being really outgoing or drinking lots means that person is “asking for it”. 
Fact: it’s never, ever the person’s fault if they experience any sexual violence. The person who did the harmful behaviour is fully responsible for the hurt they’ve caused. Someone’s clothes, drinking or social behaviour doesn’t mean consent.

Myth: sexual violence is done by strangers in a public place. 
Fact: most (90%) sexual violence is done by someone known to the victim and in a private place. These include someone in the family, whānau, partners, ex-partners, peers or friends. 

Myth: sexual violence doesn’t happen to boys.   
Fact: 9% of secondary school males reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact. 

Myth: people who’ve experienced sexual violence will be hysterical and crying.
Fact: anyone who experiences sexual violence may react in different ways and experience different negative impacts. Some may seem upset while others don’t show any obvious emotions even if they are hurting inside. 

Myth: there is nothing we can do to prevent sexual violence.
Fact: there are many ways you can help prevent sexual violence. Firstly, by ensuring you’re practising consent. You can also help others by challenging rape myths or as a bystander to protect someone who may be at risk.

Where to get help 

Help is available nationally.

Numbers to call for help

  • It’s Not Ok - domestic violence information line for anyone using harmful behaviours and victims as well as for friends and family
    Call 0800 456 450   
  • 1737 Need to talk – free call or text 24/7. A national mental health and addictions helpline
    Free call or text 1737 
  • Lifeline - 24/7 confidential support from qualified counsellors and trained volunteers
    Call 0800 543 354
  • Depression Helpline - 24/7 confidential support from qualified consellors
    Call 0800 111 757
  • Healthline - 24/7 confidential support from experienced registered nurses
    Call 0800 661 116
  • Samaritans - 24/7 confidential, non-religious and non-judgmental support to anyone who may be feeling depressed, lonely or contemplating suicide
    Call 0800 726 666
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends
    Call 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Outline - this is a service for LGBTIQ+ Kiwis who need help or advice
    Call 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE)
  • Kidsline - this service is for children aged 5 to 18
    Call 0800 543 754
  • Your local Rural Support Trust - talk to someone who understands the pressures of rural life
    Call 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline - open 24/7
    Call 0800 787 797 or text 8691 for free
  • Youthline - open 24/7, youth-centered helpline
    Call 0800 376 633
  • Text 234 for free between 8am and midnight
    Email talk@youthline.co.nz  
  • Safe to talk He pai ki te kōrero - 24/7 access to free and confidential information and support to people affected by sexual harm in any way
    Call 0800 044 334
    Text 4334
    Email support@safetotalk.nz
  • Live webchat on Safe to talk

Websites where you can get help 

  • Find Support – Helping you find the support you need following sexual violence, in your time, on your terms. Support is also available for your family and whānau
    Call 0800 735 566, Monday to Friday, 8am – 5pm
    Email sensitiveclaims@acc.co.nz
  • TOAH-NNEST – links to harmful sexual behaviours services available in different regions  
  • Mental Health Foundation –   a charity that works towards creating a society free from discrimination, where all people enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing
  • The Harbour  - for those affected by harmful sexual behaviour
  • Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse - support for men who have experienced sexual abuse or violence.
  • Women's Refuge - support for women and their children to help prevent and stop family violence
    Call 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)   
  • Shine - working to make homes violence free
    Call 0508 744 633 (free national helpline)
  • WhatsUp - a helpline for children and young people. 
    Call 0800 9428 787 (0800 WHATSUP)