By Dana Pionk, BSN, RN, CNEcl
Faculty, College of Nursing and Health Care Professions
April is sexual assault awareness month. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s campaign theme for this year is, I Ask. Did you know that “asking for consent is a healthy, normal and necessary part of everyday interactions”?4
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that one-in-three women and one-in-six men have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.2 It is estimated that up to 95 percent of campus rapes go unreported.3 Sexual violence includes unwanted sexual contact, non-physically pressured unwanted sex, verbal sexual harassment and completed or attempted acts wherein the victim is unable to consent due to force or intoxication.3
What is Consent?
Consent is giving permission and it must be freely given. You should understand what you are agreeing to and understand that you can change your mind at any time. Whether you are in a committed relationship or just wanting to hook up – consent matters. Consent makes both partners more comfortable and confident and the experience more enjoyable.4
What is Not Consent?
Saying nothing, being unsure in your “yes” response, not saying “no” is not consent. Likely you are uncomfortable in communicating exactly how you feel. Each person has boundaries and it is important for both parties to respect and understand the others boundaries. Having consented in the past is not an automatic consent for the next time. Being intoxicated is not consent. A person who is intoxicated cannot freely give consent.4
Why Consent Matters
Consent ensures that sexual activities are consensual. Saying “no” is always okay.4
Trust your gut. If something seems off, leave. Make sure at least one person knows where you will be, that you have a fully charged phone and extra cash in case of emergency. Be careful what information you share on social media about your plans and whereabouts.
At a party? Stick with a friend or make sure someone always knows where you are. If you are going to consume alcohol, know your limits as alcohol can compromise your awareness. Never leave your drink unattended. If you see something that seems wrong, speak up and say something. When walking alone, stay off your phone so you can stay alert and pay attention to your surroundings and walk with a purpose sticking to well-traveled areas. Lastly, do not compromise your boundaries. Set them and be firm.2
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.799.7233
National Sexual Assault Online Chat Service: online.rainn.org
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Helpline: 602.279.2900 (M-F, 8:30a-5:00p)
Chandler Family Advocacy Center: 480.782.4210
Glendale Family Advocacy Center: 623.930.3720
Mesa Family Advocacy Center: 480.644.4075
Phoenix Family Advocacy Center: 602.534.2120
Scottsdale Family Advocacy Center: 480.312.6300
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- Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence. (2018). Sexual and Domestic Violence Resources in Arizona. Retrieved from: https://www.acesdv.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/ACESDV_Sexual-and-Domestic-Violence-Resources-in-Arizona_December-2018.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control. (2019). Sexual Violence Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/features/sexualviolence/index.html
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center. (2018). Get Statistics: Sexual Assault in the United States. Retrieved from: https://www.nsvrc.org/statistics
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center. (2018). Consent. Retrieved from: https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications/2019-01/Consent%20Handout_508_0.pdf
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.