Consensual sex or rape? How to know the difference

Although it may seem like the lines can blur between consensual sex and rape, the difference is actually very simple. Consensual sex is sex that all parties involved in agree to, both prior to the sexual activity and throughout it. Rape happens when someone involved in the sexual activity does not agree to it, and is doing it against their will, and/or because they feel forced or coerced into it.

It’s crucial to note that consent must be given before the sexual act, and it can be withdrawn during the act. Just because someone agreed to sex beforehand doesn’t mean they can’t change their mind.

Read more: Sexual consent: what you (yes, you!) need to know.  

If ever you’re having sex, or you’re engaged in sexual activity, and you don’t want to be doing it, it’s rape. It’s really that simple.

5 things everyone needs to know about consent

1. The opposite of consent is rape

If you don’t give your consent to be involved in a sexual act with someone, and they force you to do it anyway, it’s rape. It’s a crime, and they can be punished for it. You have every right to report it to the relevant authorities, if you want to. Reporting it is your choice.

Read more: Where and how to share your sexual abuse story.

2. You can always change your mind

Even if you give consent before sex, you can change your mind during the act. If the other person continues to have sex with you, it’s rape.

3. A drunk or drugged person can’t give consent

If a person has been drinking or taking drugs, they don’t know what they’re doing, and they can’t give consent, even if it seems like they are. That means it’s rape. Bottom line: don’t have sex with a person who’s inebriated or intoxicated in any way.

4. Giving consent for one act doesn’t mean you give consent for all acts

Consent must be given every time you have sex or engage in sexual activity with someone. Just because you had sex with them once doesn’t mean they have the right to demand sex any other time. Having sex with someone once doesn’t imply that they always have a right to have sex with you…

5. … In fact, no one has the ‘right’ to have sex with you

Maybe someone bought you dinner, or maybe they splashed out on expensive gifts for you. This does not mean that they ‘own’ you, or your body, or have any right to have sex with you. You also do not owe anyone your body for any reason – even your spouse does not own your body! You and you alone have full rights over your body, what you do with it, and with who!

Need a trustworthy ear? Marie Stopes can help 

If you need to share your experience in a safe and private space, you can always talk to a caring nurse at Marie Stopes. We can also help you to understand more about rape and consent, and how you can know the difference.

Read more: Supporting a rape victim: 5 ways to deal with sexual assault.

Find your nearest Marie Stopes centre and book an appointment online now.

Source: Marie Stopes South Africa (Safe Abortion and Post Abortion Family Planning)

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