What does consent really mean?
When someone’s sex life is healthy and playful, they are free to express what they want in sex and sexual activity and are free to say no to any act they don’t want to do.
Sexual abuse in relationships is where consent is not considered or taken seriously. Any sex act at any time of any relationship is consensual when it is agreed to and welcomed by both or all people involved. Sexual activity that is expected, demanded or manipulated is not consent.
Consent is really important as it is part of what forms trust and what good relationships grow from so when consent is not really consent, trust can’t grow.
Sexual lives of people and their preferences can change over time so what was welcomed last week is not a sure thing this week. Sexual abuse occurs when there is limited understanding or appreciation about what our partner is comfortable with or what we are willing to do. The wish to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or cause embarrassment can lead to tolerating acts that are sexual abuse.
If you are not free to say yes or no to any sex act or to some particular sex act without feeling a consequence for your choice, you are being abused.