Ask Ava

Ask Ava, Episode 118: "What does consent look like in a healthy relationship?"

June 30, 2022 Ask Ava Season 1 Episode 118
Ask Ava
Ask Ava, Episode 118: "What does consent look like in a healthy relationship?"
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 118: "What does consent look like in a healthy relationship?"

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On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about consent of all kinds in healthy relationships.

This is Jessica Skultety, Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.  

Today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, What does consent look like in a healthy relationship?”

Consent is a topic that people don’t talk enough about, and sometimes, it’s misunderstood. So here we go – we are going to talk about all kinds of consent today, and we’ll focus on what makes both partners in a relationship feel safe and comfortable.

First, what is consent? Basically, it’s a form of permission, or an agreement between two people. Consent is really about safety. In a relationship, both people have the right to be safe and respected, all of the time.

A lot of times, people talk about consent when it comes to sexual activity, but it’s so much more than that. Consent is about setting and respecting boundaries. This could be for hugging, holding hands, being in someone’s space, using someone’s phone, talking about difficult topics, and more. 

Both partners are allowed to set their own boundaries when it comes to emotions, physical closeness, and sexual activity. In a healthy relationship, both people respect those boundaries. So, consent for anything should be an ongoing conversation, but not in a way that pressures, guilts, or threatens the other person. 

Have you ever wanted to eat pizza one day, but not the next day? People are allowed to change their minds about things, right? So, the same thing applies to consent. The key here, is that the other partner doesn’t get upset, threaten, or guilt their partner by saying something like, “Well, you wanted it yesterday.”

 We also hear a lot of teens saying, “You’re being a tease” and “You’re leading me on.” This language shows that that person is NOT respecting your right to say no. Sure, they are allowed to be upset or disappointed about not being on the same page as you, but they still can’t be upset AT you. They need to respect your boundaries. 

Also, if someone is unsure about something like sexual activity and doesn’t give an answer, the other partner respects that and doesn’t pressure them.

Consent for sexual activity has to be FRIES, or F-R-I-E-S. This means: F for Freely given, or no threats or pressure. R is reversible, so everyone can change their mind. I is Informed, meaning there are no tricks and it’s clear what everyone agrees to. E is Everyone Agrees, and S is Specific. This means that consent is for each and every activity on its own.

Sometimes, someone feels pressured or threatened to say “yes” to sexual activity. This is a form of sexual violence called coercion. In this situation, some people will say “yes” to survive or get through it. That is not true, free consent, so it is always wrong. And it is NOT the survivor’s fault.

Consent in a healthy relationship for all activities means you are always checking in with your partner, and respecting their boundaries. When both people do this, it sets them up for a healthy and safe relationship.

To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning. 

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