Sexual Consent: An Open Letter To The Girl Who's Not Sure

Dear Potentially Confused Girl,


Hi, how are you doing? Living normally day to day I bet, socially upstanding and smiling when appropriate and then every now and again you get a flash - a millisecond of a moment when you recall that feeling. You can't quite put your finger on it because truthfully, you're not actually sure what happened. All you know is in that moment, you become awash with a slightly dark feeling that you want to rid your body of immediately. You shake it off and continue your day, determined not to dwell on the shiver that goes down your spine.


So what did actually happen?


You liked him, and to be fair, he is gorgeous. You got butterflies when he texted and you knew numerous other girls who fancied him.



You went home with him after the night out because you were having such a good time.


He was an amazing kisser and he really knew what he was doing.


You tried to get into it, but you just weren't really feeling it...



You said 'maybe we shouldn't' but it was already happening.


You said 'Actually, I don't think I want to do this' but he was too far gone.


Okay, so you said no, but did you really mean it? It felt okay and he definitely enjoyed it and you really liked him.



But it didn't feel okay, did it? And you did mean no... didn't you.


Just because you weren't unfortunate enough to be a woman who was taken down a lane at 2am and brutally raped, does not mean you weren't sexually assaulted. Do you know how you know if you were sexually assaulted? If you didn't give the other person consent. If you didn't say 'yes I want to do this with you'. If what you did with another person made you feel uncomfortable and you said no, but it happened anyway - then it was sexual assault.


This doesn't just cover sex, this can be kissing, oral sex or any kind of foreplay, touching or contact. This doesn't just cover strangers or 'creeps' or scary criminals on the streets, this covers every single sexual experience you've ever had. With your boyfriend, with a friend, with a sexual partner. Whatever agreement you have with a person is void if you say 'no'. You might have had sex with them before and maybe you really enjoyed it that time. You might have wanted to have sex with them for ages and couldn't wait for it to happen. It doesn't matter what you had done before, if you aren't comfortable with a sexual act, you speak up and it happens anyway, that is non-consensual sex.



Did you know that 1 in 4 Irish students who were surveyed admitted to having non-consensual sex?


You are not alone in this. Whatever happened to you has happened to others and it doesn't do you or anyone else for that matter, any good to keep it locked up in that little safe you have. I know you don't think it, but something like this can eat away at you, slowly and gradually, without you even realising it. Talk to someone. Tell them what happened. There are people who are ready and waiting for your call, and they need you to speak up.


Everything is going to be okay, you will be okay, but you need to pick up the phone* and talk and please don't be afraid, admitting to yourself that it happened is the hardest part of all.



Lots of love,


Someone who's been there too.




*If you have been affected by any issues raised by this article please call the Dublin Rape Crisis National 24-Hour Helpline 1800 77 8888
Sarah Power
Article written by
Unnatural blonde with a natural gift for wrapping presents. Never had one lesson. Big fan of Sex and the City, Eddie Vedder and men who have a good strong whistle. Hope to be a responsible woman one day, but for now I'm enjoying being a child in a woman's body. Pet peeve: People who abbreve everything.

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