“Let’s go downstairs for a bit... come on,” she says, trying to fend off her boyfriend’s kisses while upstairs at a house party. “In a bit,” he responds, somewhat aggressively, pushing her onto the bed.
What follows is a scene that isn’t violent but that Britain’s Home Office wants viewers to know is still considered rape. The ad, aimed at 13- to 18-year-olds, also reminds teens that rape and sexual violence can occur within relationships, not just between strangers.
“We want to bring this issue out into the open and get young people talking about the importance of consent,” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the BBC. “The campaign will give teenagers the facts and support they need to recognize abuse and form healthy relationships.”
The campaign, which includes TV, cinema and online ads, was launched in September after research on teen rape in the United Kingdom showed some disturbing findings.
One 2009 survey, by the British children's charity NSPCC, suggested that the 66 percent of sexual abuse against British teens was perpetrated by people under 18. But many of those teens did not report it, often because they weren’t sure if what had occurred was actually rape. An account from one teen, named “Emma,” given to the NSPCC in 2011:
I’ve never said that I’ve been, I’ve never shouted rape or anything, I’ve never been able to say that I’ve been raped or anything, but it’s not like I’ve given consent to sex in all that stuff that I haven’t wanted to happen … in certain situations it has been pushed on me and it has been really horrible … I don’t really know how to explain it, I don’t like thinking about it … Obviously it might have been slightly violent because it was aggressive and kind of, but there was no like punching or hitting or kicking … it was more like forcing.
American teens are facing a similar problem. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in the United States have suffered an episode of sexual abuse before they turn 18. And at least 70 percent of rape victims in the United States know their attackers, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.