Sexual Assault and Consent

Ok here we go.. sexual assault and consent. Where to start?! I have so much to say, share and post about these topics. But we might as well start with the basics. What is sexual assault? What is consent – what does it look like? Why does it matter?

Statistically speaking if you’re between the ages of 15 to 24 you’re in an age bracket that exposes you to the most risk of being sexually assaulted.

If you’re reading this blog, you likely fall within that age bracket, have kids that do or work with kids who are between these ages. So listen up!

The legal definition of sexual assault in Canada includes:

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual activity forced on one person by another.  Sexual assault occurs whenever a person does not want to have sex but is forced into the act, regardless of previous consensual sexual relations. Sexual assault occurs in the absence of consent.

So let’s break that down a bit.

“unwanted sexual activity” = touching, grabbing, kissing, fondling, oral sex, intercourse. Everything and anything people!

“regardless of previous consensual sexual relations” = if you’re in a relationship consent is NOT automatic. Sex should never be expected in a relationship – it should always be a conversation. You should take time to talk with your partner about what they do not feel comfortable with. This also means consent cannot be assumed even if you’ve had consensual sex with that person in the past. Consent should still be gained each and every time.

So – if sexual assault is any unwanted sexual activity that occurs in the absence of consent.. what on earth is consent?

I think we have all heard the phrase “no means no”. Ya, great – that’s true. But consent is more than just saying no. It’s saying YES! It’s enthusiastic and informed. It’s ongoing. It can be revoked at ANY TIME. It is voluntary – never coerced. You should never feel like you’re convincing someone to get with you.

I think the act of gaining consent is a skill. It can be an uncomfortable conversation for kids to have – but it’s super important. I sometimes use the analogy of taking a drivers ed class. They don’t just teach you how not to crash your car in drivers ed, right? They teach you how to respect the rules of the road, to navigate traffic safely and to avoid a collision. They teach you to be better drivers. Learning how to gain consent works the same way. It’s preventative.

In true OPJAZZCHAT fashion here’s a video I came across a few amazing women talking about what they wish they would have known about sexual assault and consent in high school.

I couldn’t embed the video right onto the blog so you’ll have to click on the link below to view it. Take a look!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/22/college-domestic-violence-survivors-huffpost-live_n_6029304.html

 


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