What is consent?
Generally speaking, consent is the uncoerced permission or agreement to do something. This concept still applies when speaking about sexual consent as well as all aspects of a healthy relationship.
Sexual consent can be defined as the voluntary and clear agreement between partners to engage in a specific sexual activity. Asking and granting consent are a part of establishing and respecting personal boundaries. Consent is an ongoing communication and it can be revoked AT ANY TIME. Nonconsensual sex is assault.
Consent is never implied. You have complete say over what happens to your body and are allowed to change your mind. Clear communication is key to consent. If you are unsure of anything- ask! Always ask. Whether it be a one-time thing or a long term relationship, consent should be enthusiastically given EVERY time.
|Getting permission for every sexual activity with a clear and enthusiastic answer.
Q: “Is this OK?”
Checking in throughout the sexual activities
|Ignoring someone saying “No” or “stop”.
Someone not saying “yes”.
Assuming based on behavior or dress that someone wants to engage in sexual activities with you.
When someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Pressuring or guilting someone into sexual activity.
Assuming you have consent based on previous sexual encounters.
Nonconsent means stop. Any activity that does not receive consent from all parties is considered rape, sexual assault, or abuse.
Healthy relationships is a topic that comes up a lot – but what does that mean? There are lots of different types of relationships - we will be focusing on romantic and sexual relationships.
In a healthy relationship, all partners feel supported and independent. There is no general definition of what a relationship should look like and those involved in it should be the ones to decide. However, any inequality or violence indicate an unhealthy relationship.
Two major components of maintaining the health of a relationship involve communication and boundaries.
Communication: involves talking and truly listening to your partner(s)- whether that be about their sexual wants and needs or just something they say! Treating each other with respect and speaking openly about your thoughts and feelings is important. Overall, relationships should allow you the freedom to be your own person as well as support, celebrate, and grow while receiving the same.
Boundaries: Establishing boundaries is critical to a healthy relationship. This goes for sex, personal space, money and everything in between! Healthy boundaries include letting partners spend time with other people, and trusting each other. Not pressuring each other to do things they don’t want to do is a key part of consent and a healthy relationship. Like we said before, no matter how long or short a relationship, consent should never be implied or assumed. If a person does not feel safe enough to say no, that is not consent.
If you or someone you know has experienced a form of sexual violence, please utilize the OASIS Immediate Care After Sexual Violence page here to learn more about what steps you can take. Remember, you are not alone.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) defines sexual violence as “an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse.” There are many crimes that fit under this umbrella and their definitions vary from state to state. Above all, it should be noted that sexual violence is never the survivor’s fault.
Regardless of gender, race, age, or sexual orientation, anyone can be a victim. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their life.
That being said, LGBTQ+ folks, women (particularly women of color) and people with developmental disabilities are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence.
Identity Abuse: A form of interpersonal violence that is not often named is identity abuse. Scholars have defined identity abuse as “the set of tactics of IPV (interpersonal violence) that leverage heterosexism and cissexism against LGBTQ survivors.”
This translates to a partner using a person’s identity as a way to hold control over them. This can show up in a number of ways including (Woulfe & Goodman, 2018):
- "Outing" (disclosing someone's LGBTQ identity without their consent)someone or threating to do so
- Undermining or invalidating their identity
- This can look like saying someone is not a “real (insert identity)” or “(insert identity) enough: ie not gay enough, not a real bisexual
- Not respecting someone’s name or pronouns/Intentionally deadnaming or misgendering someone.
- Using transphobic and homophobic language
- Isolating someone from the LGBTQ community
The impacts of sexual violence and interpersonal violence vary from case to case. These can be visible or invisible. After experiencing sexual violence, recovery can be different of everyone. It is never too late or too early to begin the process of individual recovery. Please see our resources page for more information and pages that specialize in advocating for and uplifting survivors.