I’m a little late to the game but I recently found out that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
A lot of us will be affected by sexual assault at some point in our lives, whether it be through personal experiences or those of friends, family, or other loved ones. This past year I had to endure a nonconsensual sexual experience myself.
Since so many people have different attitudes regarding sexual activity, it’s vital that the intentions, actions, and end results are understood by everyone involved. What one person considers casual fun another might think is an emotionally bonding experience. These differing viewpoints can lead to confusion, resentment, and heartache.
Men and women can be sexually assaulted by either gender. And it’s not always just about the physical assault itself. There is also emotional and mental manipulation that sometimes goes into convincing someone to do something they are not ready to do. Threats of ending relationships or accusations of ruining the fun or being a buzzkill will often be used to weaken the other person’s resolve. These people can spot insecurities and use them to their advantage, gaining trust before pressuring the other person to yield to their desires, essentially wearing them down until they agree, or more aptly, just give in.
There’s shame in feeling like you gave in to someone’s pressure, especially someone you care about. You question your strength and sanity and their disregard for your comfort and safety. But there’s no shame in what happened to you. There’s no shame in changing your mind, resisting advances, or flat out refusing to go any further with someone. It’s your body and only you have the right to choose who gets close to it. A friend who doesn’t take no for an answer does not respect you. They only want to rule you. And that is no friend.
No means no. Hesitance means no. A half-yes means no. No answer means no. Wanting to stop at any time after initiation means no. If consent is not expressly given, then it is not given at all and it is not up for debate or negotiation.