Is It Assault? What Is Consent?
Sexual assault is a devastating form of personal injury. The emotional and psychological effects of sexual assault can follow a survivor for years. Some forms of sexual assault are undeniable. Others may leave a victim confused and wondering if they were truly assaulted.
Any type of sexual activity without your consent is sexual assault. This includes when a victim feels threatened or is otherwise unable to resist. Sexual assault can take many forms.
Coming forward after sexual assault is often difficult for victims. When you choose to share your story with Melissa Hague, you choose a woman warrior ready to fight for your rights. We believe you, and we’re ready to fight for you. Contact sexual assault attorney Melissa Hague today for a confidential free consultation.
What Is Consent?
Consent is the agreement between two parties to engage in sexual activity. Consent is clearly and freely given without force or coercion. Consent is specific. Consent can be revoked at any time. Consent should be enthusiastic and not implied.
Consent is clearly and freely given. A person under duress or fear cannot provide free and clear consent. If someone agrees to sexual activity as a result of verbal threats they are not providing consent. Intimidating someone into performing sexual acts is not consensual.
A person must have the capacity to provide consent. An unconscious person lacks the capacity to provide consent. A person cannot provide consent when they are incapacitated under the influence of drugs or alcohol. An individual also lacks the capacity to consent to sexual activity if they are mentally disabled or underage. Children cannot provide consent to sexual activity. Allowing sexual activity to occur because you’re scared of the consequences if you refuse isn’t consent.
Consent to sexual activity is specific. Consent to one sexual act does not provide consent to other sexual acts. If a person consents to oral sex that does not mean that the person is also providing consent to other kinds of sexual activity, such as sexual intercourse.
Consent can be revoked at any time. It can even be revoked in the middle of a sexual act after consent has been given. If you consent to sexual activity which then becomes violent or forceful, it can be revoked. Once it is revoked, if the partner doesn’t stop, it becomes sexual assault.
Consent should be enthusiastic and not implied. Consent should be an enthusiastic “YES.” Consent is not implied or inferred from silence. Enthusiastic consent is the presence of a verbal yes. It isn’t implied by body language, eye contact, flirtatious acts, or even nodding.
What Is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is non-consensual sexual activity, which may include touching, groping or exposure to sexual images or nudity.
Sexual assault is physical when it involves another person touching you sexually without your consent. Common forms of physical sexual assault include:
- Attempted rape
- Oral sex
- Insertion of fingers or objects
- Groping or fondling
Any unwanted physical contact that is sexual in nature is a form of physical sexual assault.
Unwanted touching is considered sexual assault if it involves the genitals, buttocks, or breasts. These are considered “intimate parts,” and a person must provide consent to another person before someone touches one’s intimate body parts.
A sexual assault lawyer can help you understand if specific actions are legally considered sexual assault. Sexual assault is not only unlawful it can also cause great harm to victims.
Survivors of sexual assault may suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and other lasting effects that can impact their lives, well-being, and ability to earn income for years. While some abusers may minimize their actions, sexual assault, like unwanted touching, is never a joke or harmless, and victims of sexual assault should remember that they have rights and legal recourse.
A sexual assault perpetrator robs their victim of mental and emotional health and safety. However, your perpetrator can only rob you of your voice if you choose to remain silent.
Regaining your voice is one of the most empowering actions a sexual assault survivor can take. Coming forward requires strength and courage. We believe you, and we want to help. Melissa Hague is a woman warrior ready to fight for you. Contact sexual assault lawyer Melissa Hague today for a free, confidential consultation.
Sexual Coercion and Threats
Sometimes survivors of sexual assault come forward when an assault happens under conditions involving coercion or threats. In these situations, it’s common for victims to feel shame and confusion. Oftentimes, a victim is uncertain whether sexual activity under these conditions even counts as sexual assault.
If you engaged in sexual activity because you were threatened, tricked, pressured, or otherwise forced to participate, you are a survivor of sexual assault.
If a person is coerced or threatened into sexual activities by a person in a position of power or authority over them, like a teacher, landlord, sports coach, or employer, that is considered sexual assault. If a person feels pressure to engage in sexual activity to avoid serious unwanted consequences like poor grades, homelessness, being cut from a team, or loss of employment then the sexual activity is not consensual.
Sexual activity that occurs because the victim feels threatened, coerced, or otherwise scared by the consequences of refusal is not consensual. It’s a form of sexual assault, and a sexual assault lawyer can help you regain your voice.
Sexual Assault by a Partner or Spouse
Another instance where sexual assault victims don’t come forward is when the perpetrator is a spouse or intimate partner.
Any time you don’t consent to sexual activity, it’s a form of sexual assault. It doesn’t matter if you’re married to the perpetrator or have consented to sex in the past. You are never obligated to engage in sexual activity with a partner.
Sometimes, survivors may experience threats or coercion by a partner. A partner or spouse may threaten breakup, divorce, or the withholding of financial support to force a victim to engage in sexual activity. These are all forms of sexual assault.
A Woman Warrior Who Fights for You
No one should ever have to experience unwanted sexual behavior. A survivor should never feel they can’t come forward and seek help because participation occurred under threat or coercion or because a perpetrator didn’t physically touch them. Sexual assault injury is often physical, but it can also be emotional or psychological.
Laws exist to protect victims in all of these circumstances.
Melissa Hague is a woman warrior passionate about fighting for justice on behalf of the survivors of all types of sexual abuse. If you believe you’ve been the victim of sexual assault, you’re encouraged to come forward and share your story.
Melissa Hague is an experienced sexual assault attorney with a long history of providing compassionate, dedicated representation for the victims of sexual assault. Melissa and her trauma-informed team will hear you, believe you, and fight for justice on your behalf.
Sexual assault silences victims. Only you can choose to regain your voice. Contact Melissa today, and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss how to take action after sexual assault.