Sexual violence is a broad term; it covers a whole continuum of behaviors. That is why we explain what defines different types of touching, and where they fall on the continuum.
Mutually Consenting Touch
The first type of touching is mutual consenting touch. This refers to touching that both people want and freely choose; the key word being freely. This means no manipulation, coercion, or threatening can be involved (i.e. no alcohol or drug can be used to “loosen up” a person).
Both people have to agree that this is what they want, and have talked about how far they want to go. As long as the boundaries are agreed upon, and adhered to, it’s fine. The moment someone says no, it stops there, no worries.
In many cases there will be one person trying to persuade the other to go further. As long as this persuasion does not include lies, manipulation, or deceitful promises, it’s fine. Just be aware that if the other person still says no, it stops there.
Unfair Pressures and Touch
Here is where sexual violation starts; when one person is using the other. This part is a little sneaky but you still have to be aware that it’s not ok. This involves manipulation, such as:
- Saying what you think your partner wants to hear, even though you know it is not true. For example, saying “I love you” just to get in his/her pants.
- Promising to do something in return, knowing that you have no intention of keeping that promise. Saying, “I promise to take out the trash,” while in your head saying “riiiight” is also unfair.
- Asking over and over again. “Can we have sex?”, “how about now?”, “how ‘bout now?”, “and now?” It’s not only annoying, it’s also sexual violence.
Rule of thumb: if the person says no twice, just stop.
This is a bit more noticeable, but it can still be difficult to notice. It’s when they start using threats, although not physically harmful. Threats may sound something like, “If you don’t, I’ll…
- Find someone else”
- Tell everyone you did anyway”
- Break up with you”
It does NOT include “I’ll kill you”
These next two are less sneaky, but some parts can still be pretty sneaky.
Grabbing people in a “teasing” way to show them you like them.
Not so sneaky:
Things to consider: they may not be saying no, but that’s because no one asked. That does not make it ok to touch.
This is what we usually hear about, which is any form of sex that is forced. It can be any kind of sex; it’s not just limited to vaginal. Stranger or friend, paid or not, agreed upon or not, the moment one person says stop, it should be over. If one partner decides to continue having sex when the other is not ok with it, it’s sexual assault.