When there is sexual abuse, either from an adult or another youth, there must be some level of coercion. Most situations of sexual abuse involve coercion, which is emotional ways to force someone to do something, usually tricks and threats.  A young child may consent to sexual behaviors because they are not aware of what sex is, how the private parts are supposed to be special and kept private (they don’t know the privacy rules) or they have been taught that sex is OK for kids by a caregiver.

Sometimes this diagram helps folks understand who is really responsible for sexual abuse because healthy sexuality is 100% consensual for both parties who are old enough to consent.

click on this link to see the diagram in a pdf form which you can copy  coercion arrow

The dynamics of consent in relationships can get really complicated.  True consent only involves people who have the same level of power and control, for example, a teen may fully consent to sexual activity with their teacher, but it’s not true consent because the student doesn’t have the same amount of power in the relationship.   For information on unhealthy dynamics in relationships, visit