Ask Ava

Ask Ava, Episode 164: "What if I consented to sexual activity, but I didn't know what I was agreeing to?"

June 01, 2023 Safe+Sound Somerset Season 1 Episode 162
Ask Ava
Ask Ava, Episode 164: "What if I consented to sexual activity, but I didn't know what I was agreeing to?"
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 164: "What if I consented to sexual activity, but I didn't know what I was agreeing to?"

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On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about not knowing what they agreed to during sexual activity.

This is Jessica Skultety. I’m an 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.

So, today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, “What if it happened so fast, I didn’t know what I was consenting to?”

 We have started getting this question from teens in our community in Somerset County. Another similar question we hear is, “What if I consented to sexual activity, but I didn’t know what I was agreeing to?”

This is a kind of sexual assault. Legal consent has to be informed, which means that every person knows what they’re agreeing to, and there are no tricks. If you did not know, you were not able to legally consent to that activity. It is up to both partners to keep each other informed and to ask for consent for every action.

It’s not your fault that it went too fast, or that you didn’t know what was going on. Sometimes we hear from teens who have been pressured by other teens, or sometimes older and more experienced. Pressure or forcing is also sexual assault, because that means that both people didn’t freely agree. If you said “yes” because you were scared or unsure of your partner’s reaction, that’s also not consent. It’s not a real, legal or feel-good “yes.”

Sometimes people go along with sexual activity because they are scared of their partner’s reaction if they stop or say “no.” Some teens who talk to us aren’t legally able to consent yet, or don’t know exactly what sexual activity looks like. Again, that’s NOT your fault.  

If this happened to you, you have options. You could choose to talk to someone about it. That could be a counselor, teacher, parent, principal, family friend – an adult who you trust. You might want to call or text our helpline to talk to a trained advocate, or someone who supports survivors directly. 

If you contact us within 5 days after a sexual assault, you can also activate a free service called the Sexual Assault Response Team. You have a choice about which of the 3 providers you want involved with supporting you: an advocate, a forensic nurse examiner, and/or law enforcement. You have to be 13 or over to do that.

 But remember, you are not alone, and there is help available. 

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. 

Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.