According the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women will be raped in their lifetime and one in three women experience or will experience some form of sexual contact or violence in their lifetime. Also, 51.1% of female rape victims were raped by their intimate partner, which means that consensual sex did not occur. Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers to define consent.
What exactly is consent?
Consent is giving someone else approval for some sort of action. In this case, consent is permitting someone (man or woman) to take part in a sexual act. In order to obtain consent, there has to be communication. This may seem awkward at first, as some people believe that asking for consent can “ruin the mood”; however, nothing ruins the mood more than when one of the people involved is not comfortable because they did not give consent. Ask and make sure that they are comfortable, that what you are doing is okay with them. If both people agree, then consent has been given. Let’s further define what consent is and is not when applied to sex:
What consent is: having communication before a sexual act where both partners agree to engage (consent is not one-sided). Respecting when someone says no, and not pushing or forcing someone to engage in a sexual act.
What consent is not: assuming that the way someone is dressed or acting (i.e. flirting) gives you the “green light” to push or force someone into a sexual act. When someone is influenced by alcohol or drugs, do not assume that person wants to engage in a sexual act. When your partner says nothing, that does not mean that they approve.
If I already gave consent, does it still apply?
NO. Consent is not something that you gain once and then have forever. Just because permission is given once does not mean that it applies to each sexual encounter.
What do I do if they don’t respect my requests?
Sometimes situations can be misunderstood, a person doesn’t respect your wishes, or a partner may think that because they already had consent that they have it in each encounter. It is important to gauge your situation. Perhaps your partner misunderstood your body language. Be sure to take a step back and make it clear you are not interested in going any further.
If you have made it known that you do not want to engage in a sexual act, do your best to get out of that situation. Remember that your rights matter, especially in these circumstances. If anything goes too far, go to someone you trust. A friend, a family member, or someone else who plays a supportive role in your life. If you have been assaulted, call the authorities and report the situation. Be sure to preserve any evidence, i.e., the clothing you were wearing and do not take a shower. It may be painful for you to relay the events to someone else, but it might help the police in charging the person before they hurt anyone else. It is important to get the help that you need. Regardless of the situation, no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.
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AVA Care is here to Advocate for you, Validate your concerns and provide Answers to your questions. We are here for you – no matter what you decide. Schedule an appointment online or call 540.434.7528 today.
Dr. Teresa Klansek
The content on this page has been reviewed and approved by our Medical Director Dr. Teresa Klansek.