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Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2013;25(1):69-74. doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2013-0009.

Unwanted sexual experiences among adolescents: shedding light on the gray zone between consensual and non-consensual sex.

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Research Group on Adolescent Health, University Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland.


This study aimed at exploring adolescents' perceptions of unwanted sexual experiences (USE) in order to set up definitions, categories, and boundaries on the continuum between consensual and non-consensual sex.


We conducted a qualitative thematic analysis of four focus group discussions gathering a total of 29 male and female adolescents aged 16-20 years.


Analysis of participants' discourse revealed three main characteristics that define USE, namely, regret, as most situations discussed were said to be acceptable or not in terms of whether there were regrets after the fact; misperception of sexual intent; and lack of communication between partners.


Our findings revealed that health professionals should be aware of the subtle aspects identifying USE when screening for situations that can have adverse psychological consequences. Where prevention is concerned, it appears important to address these aspects of USE in sex education classes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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