Sexual Assault Awareness Month: It’s time to talk about consent

Published 9:36 am Friday, April 13, 2012

Editor’s note: In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Steps to HOPE will submit several articles on related topics during April. The following is the second of these articles.
Consent is permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Consensual sex means everyone involved has agreed to what they are doing and has given their permission. Sex without someone’s agreement or permission is sexual assault.
Drugs and alcohol blur consent. When drugs and alcohol are involved, clear consent cannot be obtained. Intoxication impairs decision-making and can make it impossible to gain someone’s legal consent. Mixing drugs and/or alcohol can lead to risky behavior such as unsafe sex.
Consent needs to be clear. A partner saying nothing is not the same as a partner saying “yes.” Don’t rely on body language, past sexual interactions or any other non-verbal cues. Never assume you have consent because your partner does not say “no.”
Consent does not have to be something that “ruins the mood.” It allows one to know that their partner is comfortable with the interaction and lets both partners clearly express what they want.
Consent is specific. Just because someone consents to one set of actions and activities does not mean consent has been given to any other sexual act. If consent to sexual activity was given in the past it does not apply to current or future interactions. Consent can be initially given and later withdrawn.
For more information visit www.nsvrc.org or contact Steps to HOPE at 828-894-2340.
– article submitted by Debra Backus, Steps to HOPE