Healthy relationships involve respectful and constant communication and safe and healthy boundaries. Nothing hurts more than having our trust violated by someone we love.
Consent is crucial in every relationship. The belief that rape is normally committed by strangers is actually far from the truth. The reality is that rape is often committed by someone the victim knows. Many times, the victim is friends with or already in an intimate relationship with the rapist. This is why communicating and getting consent at every step of the way is so important. It’s imperative that both partners feel comfortable, always.
This goes for adult relationships and marriages as well as younger relationships like teen dating. Parents need to be especially vigilant about not only talking with their children about boundaries and consent, but also observing them for any possible signs of abuse, which can happen in many forms.
These tips on consent are important for all of us to know, whether you’re a parent wanting to help educate your child, a young adult entering college or university, or even already married.
Five Things to Know About Consent
1. Consent Isn’t a One Time Thing.
Consent needs to be given every single time. Just because consent was given for something one time doesn’t mean it will be or needs to be given again. Never stop communicating and never assume that something is okay. Ask and get consent, and make sure your partner also gets permission every time.
2. Under the Influence = No.
Getting consent while a partner is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is never okay. No matter what. If someone has been drinking or doing drugs, there is no “safe” area for receiving consent. A lack of resistance or lack of consent also doesn’t mean it’s okay.
3. You should Never Feel Pressured. Period.
Never tolerate anyone who coerces or manipulates you into giving consent. This is a big warning flag. He may react negatively with sadness or anger if you say “no” to something or don’t consent, but don’t let your boundaries and wishes get overshadowed by the pressure and manipulation. Rape can happen even when you’re in a relationship with someone and even if it is a non-violent relationship. Your partner needs consent every single time.
4. You Don’t Owe Anyone Anything.
Another big red flag is if a partner makes you feel like you “owe” them. Whether he just took you out for a nice date, gave you a nice gift, or you’re dating or even married, there is no justification for feeling like you owe him something. If he makes you feel that you “owe” it to him or manipulates or pressures you, this is a clear signal that the relationship is unhealthy and not safe.
5. Ignoring Your Wishes is Never Okay.
If he’s ignoring your comfort levels or cues, such as pushing or pulling, it’s time to get out of the situation as quickly and safely and possible. You should always feel comfortable, safe and respected. Never tolerate someone who tries to push your boundaries. Someone who truly cares about you will respect your wishes and feelings.
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