*Trigger Warning* this blog addresses sexual assault…
April was Sexual Assault Awareness month, and even though it’s over we believe it’s always a good time to talk about consent. A couple weeks ago, Scream Queens actor, Abigail Breslin, opened up about being sexually assaulted by an ex-partner. It began when she posted a couple pictures to Instagram and disclosed a few details about the assault, including that she was in a relationship with the person who raped her.
We’ve heard these questions one too many times: sexual assault in a relationship? How is that possible? Aren’t you both on the same page if you’re dating? The concept of sexual assault within a relationship may sound totally strange, but the reality is that it can happen.
For the record, consent doesn’t change when you enter a relationship; everything about consent remains the same. Dating someone does not automatically give your partner consent, so there is never an obligation to say yes to your partner! Being in a healthy relationship is all about being able to make your own choices, respecting your partner and being respected, and feeling safe.
Let’s begin with the fact that consent is ongoing: this means that it can change and be taken back at any point. You may have been on the same page with your partner two minutes ago, but later you changed your mind -that may happen and that’s okay! You always have the right to change your mind and your partner should respect that. Consent is about equal power: if someone is asleep, under the influence, or in a vulnerable position in any way, then they are not at equal power and can’t consent. Consent is about making a choice that you are comfortable with, not being pressured into saying “yes” -and consent can’t be gained through threats or manipulation, either. If we don’t feel free to make that choice for ourselves, consent cannot happen. Consent is expressed through words of affirmation, for example, “yes”. If your partner is silent, or does not respond, that is not consent and that does not give you permission to keep going. Just because you don’t hear the word “No”, doesn’t mean you can keep pushing. The absence of “no” does not mean “yes”. Only yes means yes!
We wish that nobody would ever have to experience any abuse, and we believe it was very brave of Abigail Breslin to share her story. You can read more about Abigail’s courageous Instagram posts here: A.Breslin
Remember, you have the right to be safe and live free from fear and abuse, and you deserve respect. If you, or anyone you know, need help or just someone to talk to, call our hotline @ 407-330-3933
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