people often ask me what they can do to start fighting sex trafficking ,sexual exploitation, and sexual violence. there’s not a magic answer to that. if there was, the people I work with and i would be out of a job. a few months ago, I answered this question for someone and gave him an answer he really didn’t like. so, in my style, I’m going to use this space as a place to get on a soapbox for a bit. i know that you won’t mind. one of the ways that we can combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation is by changing our conversations about sex. I know that we all have our own views on sex, when we should be having it, who should be having it, etc. but that’s not the discussion I’m alluding to right now. I’ll break it down for you.
first, I’d like to talk about consent. as a therapist, i’m well versed in consent. my clients have to give it for treatment, for me use their information in anyway, to get information about them. if they don’t consent, I can’t continue with treatment. the same goes for any sexual activity, even the simplest of gestures (hugging, kissing, etc). you would assume that people would think that you would need consent for sex. sex is much better for everyone if all parties involved, want to participate.
consent is defined as: a voluntary, positive agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity.
How do you communicate consent??
consent to sexual activity can be communicated in a variety of ways, but one should presume that consent has not been given in the absence of clear, positive agreement. meaning, consent isn’t given if one person only agrees under threat.
verbal consent is an absolute requirement for consensual sexual activity, verbal communication prior to engaging in sex also helps to clarify consent. communicating verbally before engaging in sexual activity is imperative.
consent must be clear for each participant at every stage of a sexual encounter. just because no one has said “no”, that doesn’t mean that they have given consent.
a prior relationship does not indicate consent to future activity.
a person who is asleep or mentally or physically incapacitated, either through the effect of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason, is not capable of giving consent. period. even if they agreed to the act prior to becoming intoxicated or asleep. alcohol and drugs take away the person’s ability to have clear judgment.
if one party says no to something, even in the middle of the act, you must stop. anything that happens, after no, is rape or sexual assault.
consent is important, not only for an enjoyable experience, but because sexual assault is still an issue. here’s some stats for you:
1 in 4 college women are victims of rape and sexual assault in their lifetime.
5% of women in the military are raped every year.
5% of women in college are raped every year. (this doesn’t include other forms of sexual assault.)
28% of women in the military experience rape while in service.
1.27 million women are raped every year in the USA.
32% of college men surveyed said that they would use force to obtain sex if there weren’t any consequences.
rape is the least reported of all violent crimes.
this is just the beginning of the conversations that we need to change if we are going to make any changes in sex trafficking ,sexual exploitation, and sexual violence. if you’re not comfortable with these conversations, especially with your kids (because the average age of entrance into prostitution in the USA is 12-14 years old, for girls and boys), then someone else will have this conversation with them. wouldn’t you rather it be you?
consent is not...
the hemline of her dress,
the neckline of her shirt,
"but we've done it before",
where they were,
or how they behaved.
by definition, no one ever "asks" for rape.