Welcome to the Last Installment of the Five part collaboration on Sexual abuse, thank you for reading. This week we’re trying something new, as we were struggling with this topic on our own. Four of us have teamed up to answer some questions and dispel some myths. This team up is coming to you in five installments:
Monday was of myths
Tuesday was answering questions
Wednesday was more baffling myths
Thursday was even more mind boggling myths
Finally today we have a ‘What if..’ question that we are going to answer.
Q: What if someone verbally consented to a sexual act, whether it was kissing, taking their shirt off, or having sex, but later, when they were in bed and making out, felt unsure and only said yes because the other person was pressuring them? Would you still consider that consent?
Marie: If they were pressured into saying ‘yes’ then no, in my opinion I do not consider that consent. In the eyes of the law it defines consent as voluntary agreement to partake in sexual activity with another person. If you feel pressured into agreeing to partake in a sexual activity your consent was not voluntary, making your agreement not consensual. As the law recognises consent by not only verbal consent but also by non-verbal cues, eg: body language and or struggling, despite ‘yes’ being said body language said no, making it sexual assault. People have the legal right to change their mind at any point and if the partner does not stop when one changes their mind it becomes sexual assault, because there is no longer any consent. Personally I didn’t understand the idea that you were legally allowed to turn around and say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ at any point even if consenting earlier, and that at the moment you communicate your lack of consent it becomes sexual assault.
My boyfriend at the time (now my ex-boyfriend) a couple years ago who ignored me when he wanted to take kissing and fooling around farther and I had said no stop. At the time I didn’t completely understand that that was rape, but I knew it was wrong. I do now consider it rape because I did not consent, however I was in that haze of ‘well he’s my boyfriend, and we were fooling around’ that was trying to justify his actions.
Ivybelle: I remember a few years ago I was in a new relationship with a guy I really liked. However, my ex-boyfriend wasn’t happy about it and he tried everything to get me to break up with him or vice versa. Stress was kicking in and I remember that my ex and I were always fighting about me being in a relationship with my boyfriend. At that time I was living with my ex’s sister until I could get back on my feet again. My ex told me that if I didn’t dump my boyfriend I would be kicked out of his sister’s place and I would have nowhere to go. I was scared and angry every time he would mention it.
One night, my ex told me he needed to talk to me face to face and I did. When I got there it was 1am and we got into a huge fight. Once he calmed down I was about to leave but my ex didn’t let me; he said it was too late and that he didn’t want something to happen to me. He told me that I was going to sleep over, and that’s when my fears kicked in. I sat on his bed in the living room because there was nowhere else to sit. He asked me if I had dumped my boyfriend and I said no. He wanted to watch a movie so we did and he kept putting his hands on my body. I took his hands off me and told him no 3 times. That’s when he pinned me to the bed and asked me to have sex with him one last time. I didn’t want to, I was screaming on the inside and all I could see were my past abusers. I just froze and didn’t know what to say. He asked me again and again until I could say something. The only thing I could say was “I guess”, I was scared and I couldn’t move. See at this point, I could have ran for the door but it was as if I was paralyzed. I wanted to cry and scream but I couldn’t. He kept pressuring me to have sex with him even though I told him 3 times to take his hands off me, but I said “ I guess” instead of saying no…
The next day I woke up and I felt like crap, I got dressed and left. When I got home I got a message from my ex saying “if you don’t tell him you cheated on him, I will and he will be pissed. Either way, you and him it’s over.” I was hurt and broken; I felt bad and took the blame. I didn’t hear from my boyfriend for 3 days and I messaged him telling him what exactly happened. When he finally texted me back I knew he was pissed at me. He told me that he trusted me and that he was in love with me but now the damage is done and there’s no way to fix this. I tried telling them that I was pressured into it, but to him it’s still considered cheating. I was confused at that moment… All I could think was “is it rape? Did I cheat? Was it my fault?” I didn’t know what to think. When I talked to my ex’s sister she told me I should have just walked out, I should have pushed him away, and that it’s my fault for cheating…
Now the guy who I once loved, is married, has 3 kids and is happy. As for me? Well, I finally was told that yes, it’s rape. If you are being pressured into a situation, yes it is rape. If you feel forced into saying yes but you mean no, then yes it is rape. If you don’t give an answer, then yes it is rape. Unless you say yes and actually mean it, then it is rape.
Madison: When it comes to feeling pressured in a relationship. You never should, you should feel safe enough to be honest with your partner. I was in a relationship a little while ago where the same thing happened time and time again. I was afraid of telling him because I didn’t want him to feel rejected or hurt by it, but every time it happened I felt more and more regret because I wasn’t being true to myself or him. When I finally came out to him he was more offended but that I hadn’t been totally honest. I try now to always have a good communication with my boyfriend’s now.
When it comes to having this kind of thing happening with a stranger or friends. The only thing I really can say is that you really shouldn’t have to feel that way. What I could recommend is trying to be honest with the person and let them know that this isn’t a good time and maybe we can try again another time.
Thank you for reading!
Don’t be afraid to leave a comment leaving your opinion on this ‘what if..’ question, our responses or any questions you may have. If you can think of a myth you’ve heard and haven’t seen here please don’t be shy and leave it in the comments.
Until next week,
Marie Olsson, Madison Taylor, and Ivybelle Teller
“What Is the Legal Definition of “Consent”?” What Is the Legal Definition of “Consent”? N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2015. <http://www.rapereliefshelter.bc.ca/faq/what-legal-definition-consent>.