What does it mean when a person experiences an assault? Can rape happen in committed relationships? These are tough questions but I will attempt to answer them in this post as a preview of what you will see in my upcoming book.
I define sexual assault and consent in these ways:
Sexual assault: Any action, innuendo, or behavior that is forced or coerced without the continual and explicit consent of all partners.
Consent: An ongoing and continual ‘yes’ throughout all parts of the sexual experience.
There are many ways consent is violated:
If a person agrees to one thing but not the next, their consent was violated.
If a person wants to do something to get it over with, their consent was violated.
If a person is afraid to say ‘no’ (or says ‘no’), their consent was violated.
If a person is unable to say ‘no’ (perhaps unconscious or ill), their consent was violated.
This would mean even in committed relationships, one could violate their partner’s consent.
It is important to remember that when a person’s consent is disregarded, this means they lose the ability to control what happens next. In those moments, one person lacks the ability to say what is happening to them and instead of participating in the experience as an agent of their own body, the sexual act happens to them. It is a horrible experience.
Therefore, let me end with this: Know that consent is important for relationships. Being aware if your partner is continually consenting is vital. And talking about consent is a crucial component to preventing assault.