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Sex + Relationships

The Hard Part About Consent

He loves me. He never meant to hurt me. We were doing so well. He didn’t mean it. I was tired. I deserved it. It didn’t happen the way I think I remember it… It couldn’t have. It’s my fault. I’m sorry.


How many women wake up from one day to the next living in a nightmare from the night before? How many women, in a relationship, find themselves thinking they know their partner and all of their quirks and kinks, only to be horribly wrong about who they’ve found themselves emotionally invested in?


Statistically, one in six women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. (Center for Hope and Safety) On the other side of that statistic, 72% of rapes and sexual assaults are never even reported to the police.


Every 98 seconds, somewhere in America, someone is being sexually assaulted. That’s a scary statistic, right? Imagine this: you’re at home on your couch, watching a movie with your boo and you’re not really in the mood for anything besides watching the movie and falling asleep afterwards. Your boo is cuddling with you and pressing and rubbing himself against you with a couple of phrases along the lines of, “c’mon, just give me five minutes,” or “this will help you go to sleep,” but you told him no a while before the urge to have sex was brought to the table. So, he continues an attempt to persuade you to have sex, but it’s something you’re used to with him, right? He continues trying to coax you for the rest of the night and eventually, like always, you give in, because he’s your man… and maybe you were unwilling in the beginning to have sex, but he did things to make you feel good – things to make you feel like this is what you wanted. He’s just trying to help… right?


As with any fine line between an action and a reaction – there is a boundary. The boundary between consent and coercion is so subtle that most men and women miss the mark, especially in relationships. Sexual coercion is under a large umbrella of what it means to be sexually assaulted or harassed, as it envelops many behaviors and situations where a person is unwilling or “not in the mood” to engage in sexual activity but feels pressured to have sex with the use of alcohol, drugs, and any sexual contact including kissing, petting, and caressing to push the idea of sex.


A type of sexual coercion is rape, but not all sexual coercion is rape; it can be as easy as being next to the guy you love watching a movie, innocently not in the mood, but he is – so, now the tables are turning even when you didn’t want them to.


Partner rape and sexual coercion do coexist, and rape that happens in any context doesn’t have to be physically violent or initiated by a stranger. In fact, about 13% of women have experienced sexual coercion in their lifetime and more than half, about 51.1% of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and about 40.8% reported their assailant to be an acquaintance. (The National Domestic Violence Hotline)


Honestly, as a woman, you are more likely to be the victim of sexual assault by someone you have a history with than with someone who couldn’t tell you what your last name was. The math and the science behind the scenes of traumatic occurrences like these tell us that sexual assault in intimate partner relationships goes unreported because the victim feels that, as a partner, sex, even coerced or forced sex, is your duty to your partner and in that sense, it does not qualify as abuse — it does.


If you tell your man no or if he tells you no – that’s the end. Find a book to read, take a cold shower, watch a movie, wait until you’re actively being told that your partner wants something from you. The sense of duty and entitlement that you may think is owed to your partner, is actually the only thing you owe to yourself. No one should make you feel like the decision you’ve made about not sharing your body is the wrong one; relationship or not. What part of sex is fun if I have to be roped into it?


The hard part about consent is that we live in a society where no one is taught to ask if we even want to have sex and that leads to assumption, grey areas, and traumatic experiences. The hard part about consent, is that there really is no hard part; no means no and leave it at that.


Every two minutes, a relationship is changed.


Every two minutes, somewhere in America, a piece of a person’s identity is taken from them and replaced with something they won’t even recognize.


I guess the hard part about consent is the boundary between what you want and how to get it.


“Yes” is a start.

What will you do with your 98 seconds?


Junior, journalism major with an interest in law. Feel free to get to know me with my socials!
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