Sexual consent is everything

Consent is more than just submitting to sex! It means freely agreeing to sex! Enthusiastically agreeing to sexual contact!

“Yes! I want to kiss you!”

The law says that you cannot freely agree to sex if you are; -under the age of 16 (in NSW)

– being forced/pressured into it or too scared to say no

– being threatened or your children are threatened

– being coerced, intimidated, deceived, manipulated

– unconscious, asleep or substantially intoxicated by alcohol or another       drug

– restrained or tricked into it

– tricked into believing it is essential for medical purposes.

If you don’t have a choice or the freedom or capacity to make that choice, then you can’t consent to sex. Injury and resistance aren’t necessary to prove consent was broken. That’s the law!

Sexual assault can happen to anyone. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. We all have a right to say yes or no to sexual activity. No one is “asking for it.” It was not your fault! The survivor is not responsible for the perpetrator’s actions.

Remember just because someone has had sex with you before, you can’t assume consent. If someone is kissing you- you can’t assume they’ve consented to a list of sexual activities in your head you’d like to engage in.

Sexual consent can be revoked at any time. You can say yes and as things progress, if you’re not feeling it anymore or you don’t feel comfortable, you have every right to say, “no/stop/hey, let’s have a breather, can we slow down, I only want to x and y tonight..”

If you’re unsure try saying something like:

“are you okay with this….”

“can we….now”

“I’d love to…… would you like that?”

Checking in is sexy! That’s why the word SENSUAL is in the word CONSENSUAL!

I have educated hundreds of children and adults about consent. I hope I’ve made a difference to the next generation. I’ve used every metaphor under the sun to explain it in a simple way, chocolate milkshakes, a cup of tea, a three course meal. You can start eating the entree with someone and it doesn’t mean you want desert.

I wish my generation had received this education when I was young. We weren’t taught about sexual consent. I work with a lot of adults now who are survivors of sexual assault and the myths about sexual assault can hinder their healing.

If you’re a survivor of sexual assault please remember there is no ‘normal’ response to what you went through. Everyone copes with it in different ways. You are not to blame! You aren’t to blame

if you knew your attacker, if you were under the influence of drugs/alcohol, if you’d had sex with them before, if you were wearing clothes that others might define as ‘sexy,’ you said yes at first and then said no and were ignored or if you ‘froze’ in fear and were unable to fight back or say no.

I was on the edge of my seat watching the Larry Nassar sentencing today. When Judge Aquilina spoke to the victims that had spoken out about the sexual assault I stood on my chair and cheered aloud as she spoke these words;

“You are no longer victims. You are survivors. Leave your pain here and go out and do magnificent things.”

Cat O’Dowd 

Sex Therapist – Relationship Counsellor – Art Therapist