Stand Up and Say "No"

Trigger warning: sexual assault. Views are author's own.

Many people are unaware if they classify as a victim of sexual assault. Knowing exactly what sexual assault is and how to prevent it can eliminate the negative impact on an individual’s life. Sexual assault needs to be talked about so the public can be more aware, the offenders can potentially be more conscious of their actions, and the victims will know how to better address the issues.

According to the United States Department of Justice, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.” In other words, if one partner is not comfortable or does not give consent to any sexual contact performed by the other partner, it is sexual assault. If the recipient feels sexually unsafe, violated and harassed by the other partner, it is sexual assault.

If you find yourself in one of these circumstances, always remember to stand up for yourself and to say “no,” otherwise your vulnerability will consume you. Don’t let the attacker’s selfish sexual desires influence your decision-making otherwise you are crossing your boundaries, and at the end of the day—the one who is getting hurt is yourself. Keep your head up and ensure that he or she knows that it’s unacceptable in any way possible. Self-care and respect for your body comes with the knowledge of what it means to be sexually violated and knowing that it is unacceptable.

Whatever the circumstances are in any given situation, always, always learn to be protective of your decisions, your body, your mentality and your self worth. Never let anyone make you feel less of who you are. Know yourself, your limits and your strength. Learn how to say no, and if this is challenged, use force, scream, curse, and do whatever you can to escape from the situation. Your body is like a castle—don’t let anyone take advantage of it without your consent.

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