In any healthy relationship, consent is an important piece of the puzzle. But what does “consent” mean? And why is it so important?
Consent is giving permission for something to happen or be done. In the context of a healthy relationship, this is giving a dating partner permission to engage in a specific action. Consent should be sought before a person engages in any kind of physical activity with their dating partner.
In other words, if you want to physically interact with another person, you need to ask!
DEFINING CONSENT FURTHER
Every physical act a couple engages in requires the consent of both parties—just because he or she consents to one act does not mean they consent to any others.
In other words…
- YOU are in control of YOUR body. No one may enter your personal space without your consent.
- YOU have the right to say “No” to any act, even if you have previously said “Yes.”
- YOU have the right to stop ANY encounter at ANY time.
- YOU must also ask for consent.
WHEN ASKING FOR CONSENT
When asking for consent, you must consider if this person able to consent?
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol, HE OR SHE CANNOT CONSENT.
- If a person is sleeping, unconscious or mentally incapacitated, THEY CANNOT CONSENT.
HOW DO WE MAINTAIN CONSENT?
- Talk with your partner. Be clear in what you are both comfortable with. Be clear on your limits and boundaries.
- Never pressure your partner into an act he or she seems uncomfortable with.
- If your partner seems quiet or unresponsive, stop what you are doing and ask again “Are you comfortable with this?” and remind them that you can stop at any time.
- If at any point your partner says “No” or “Stop,” STOP IMMEDIATELY.
WHY DO WE ASK FOR CONSENT?
Consent is key in any healthy relationship. It is an important piece in both the physical and emotional components of dating.
When our dating partner asks for consent, it shows:
- Love and care
All of these feelings are positive and relationship-affirming.
When a partner doesn’t ask for consent before giving or taking physical affection it can feel:
This list includes just a few of the ways ignoring a person’s right to choose can make them feel. Additionally, someone who chooses not to respect your consent can be breaking the law!
Sexual assault is a serious problem, and one that has been particularly highlighted on college campuses around the country. In September 2014, President Barack Obama launched the “It’s On Us” campaign, which calls for men and women to make a personal commitment to step off the sidelines and be part of the solution to campus sexual assault.
HOW CAN I GET HELP?
If you, or someone you know, have been sexually assaulted—talk to a trusted adult. Together, you can make decisions such as how to protect you from further assault, whether or not you should press criminal charges. It is important to understand that it can take time to heal from this kind of attack, both physically and emotionally. Talk to your local sexual assault center for further resources about the healing process.
If the attack has occurred recently, find a safe place from the perpetrator. Understand that the attack was in no way your fault; you did nothing to provoke this. Preserve the physical evidence of the attack: do not bathe or shower, do not change clothing and do not try to clean up the crime scene. Seek medical attention, and report the attack to authorities.
Call Centerstone at (888) 291-HELP to schedule an appointment with a therapist. If you feel like you need immediate help, please call (800) 681-7444 for 24-hour Crisis Services.